Tunisia's ruling Islamist party Ennahda will relinquish control of key ministries, including the ministries of the interior, justice, foreign affairs and defence, Ennahda party chief Rached Ghannouchi said Wednesday.
Tunisia's ruling Islamist party Ennahda will relinquish control of several key ministries and hand the reins over to independent political representatives, Ennahda party chief Rashid Ghannouchi said on Wednesday. The decision concerns the ministries of the interior, justice, foreign affairs and defence.
"We confirm the 'neutralistion' of the four sovereign ministries," Rached Ghannouchi, leader of the ruling Ennahda party, said on Radio Kalima.
Ennahda was responding to a demand by the opposition’s two secular, centre-left partners, Ettakatol and the Congress for the Republic of President Moncef Marzouki.
Ghannouchi has said the new cabinet would be made up of “five or six parties” and suggested the Wafa movement, the Freedom and Dignity bloc and the Democratic Alliance as potential partners.
In Pictures: Unrest at opposition leader's funeral
Tunisian security forces arrested a young man near the cemetery where assassinated opposition leader Chokri Belaid was buried on Friday.
At least 40,000 people turned out for Belaid’s funeral.
Thousands of mourners cried out “Allah Akbar” (“God is great”) during the ceremony and sang Tunisia’s national anthem.
Breaking with Muslim tradition, hundreds of women entered the cemetery to pay homage to Belaid, who was a staunch defender of women’s rights.
The funeral scene was chaotic, with a helicopter constantly circling overhead.
Black smoke caused by tear gas billowed from a building near the cemetery’s entrance.
Crowds of people fled as police fired tear gas after thugs set fire to cars and threw stones at security forces.
A Tunisian man held up a tear gas canister.
Interior ministry spokesperson Khaled Tarrouche said that at least 132 people had been arrested after clashes broke out between protesters and security forces near the cemetery and in downtown Tunis.
Security forces finally regained control of the situation in the afternoon, but dozens of cars were destroyed near the cemetery.
The move was aimed at resolving a political crisis sparked by the assassination of a secular opposition politician on February 6. Chokri Belaid, the head of the Democratic Patriotic Party and a leading opposition voice, was shot dead outside his home in the capital Tunis. Belaid’s party was a member of the Popular Front coalition of parties opposed to the Ennahda-dominated government.
Thousands of angry demonstrators took to the streets of the Tunisian capital and other cities following Belaid's death, prompting the dissolution of the government.
In a bid to quell the mounting unrest, Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali suggested the formation of a non-partisan government of independent technocrats. His plan later failed, leaing to his resignation.
The defence portfolio is already in the hands of an independent politician, Abdelkarim Zbidi, who has held the function since the revolution that brought down the regime of Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in January 2011.
Interior Minister Ali Larayedh was charged last week with forming a new government by March 8, and has vowed the new government will represent “all Tunisians”.
(FRANCE 24 with wires)
Date created : 2013-02-27