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Ruling Islamists, opposition to announce deal on PM

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Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2013-12-13

Tunisia’s ruling Ennahda Islamists and the opposition will announce a deal on a new prime minister after meeting for further talks on Friday, union mediators said Thursday, raising hopes for an end to the country’s political crisis.

Tunisia’s ruling Ennahda Islamists and the opposition will announce a deal on a new prime minister after meeting for further talks on Friday, union mediators said, raising hopes that the country’s protracted political crisis may soon be drawing to an end.

"After our meeting, we reached an agreement that will be presented tomorrow (Friday)" to the government’s other political parties, said Houcine Abassi, a mediator from Tunisia’s powerful UGTT union confederation.

The two sides have been unable to agree on a new premier since negotiations began on October 25 on forming a government of independents and were suspended soon after. Both parties are also seeking to draft a long-delayed constitution and prepare for elections.

The UGTT had set a deadline of December 14 for the two sides to name a prime minister for a caretaker administration to govern until new elections are held early next year.

The government has agreed to step down in a few weeks to ease the political turmoil that has threatened to upset Tunisia's transition to democracy three years after its "Arab Spring" uprising ousted longtime leader Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.

Political crisis

Tunisia was plunged into political turmoil in July after leftist opposition leader Mohamed Brahmi was killed by suspected jihadists, triggering calls for the resignation of the moderate Islamist Ennahda-led coalition government.

Under an ambitious road map brokered by mediators in October, the Islamist party and the opposition vowed to negotiate an interim government of independents. But the talks were suspended shortly after, with the two sides unable to agree on a future prime minister.

The economic malaise and political deadlock gripping the country, along with a rise in attacks by militants, which many blame Ennahda for failing to prevent, has fuelled discontent in Tunisia, spurring a growing number of strikes and protests.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP and REUTERS)

Date created : 2013-12-13

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