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Tunisia names new interim prime minister

FRANCE 24

Tunisia’s ruling Islamist party and its opponents named Industry Minister Mehdi Jomaa as the new interim prime minister, mediators at the talks said on Saturday.

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Industry Minister Mehdi Jomaa, an aerospace engineer by training, will head the non-partisan cabinet that will govern until elections which are expected to be in early 2014.

The appointment is part of an agreement brokered by Tunisia’s powerful labour unions and the moderate Islamist party Ennahda. The head of the powerful UGTT union, the main mediator, announced the choice on Saturday night.

Under the agreement, the Islamist Ennahda party, which faced opposition from secular rivals, has agreed to resign once politicians decide on a caretaker cabinet, complete the country’s new constitution, and set a date for elections.

End to crisis?

This hopefully ends a crisis that threatened Tunisia’s transition to democracy which begin with its 2011 uprising against autocrat Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali. The initial protests in Tunisia, which was sparked by a street vendor who set himself on fire in an act of despair, sparked similar upheavals across the Arab world.

Three years on, Tunisia, one of the Arab world’s most secular countries, is still struggling with disputes over the role of Islam.

Despite its crisis, Tunisia has fared better than two of its North African neighbours that also toppled their leaders. Egypt’s elected Islamist president is in jail after the military ousted him, and Libya is struggling to control the militias that fought Muammar Gaddafi.

However, Tunisia’s crisis has hurt the economy and prospects of generating prosperity.

(FRANCE 24 with REUTERS and AP)

 

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