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March 08, 2013

Tunisian PM Announces New Government

by VOA News

Tunisia's prime minister designate has unveiled a new Islamist-led coalition government following last-minute talks aimed at averting a major political crisis.

The deal, reached Friday just hours before a midnight deadline, includes independent politicians taking up the posts of the interior, foreign, defense and justice ministries.

The appointments reflect a key concession by the outgoing ruling Ennahda party to calm political tensions.

The prime minister designate, Ali Larayedh, said the new team will serve only until an election is held by the end of 2013.

Larayedh replaced Hamadi Jebali, who resigned after secular opposition politician Chokri Belaid was gunned down outside his home in Tunis in February. His death touched off anti-government riots around the country, creating a political crisis in the country.

Former ambassador to the United Nations and Jordan, Othman Jarandi, was named as foreign minister. Nadhir Ben Ammou, a former judge, was chosen as minister of justice, while university professor Rachid Sabbagh will head the Defense Ministry. Lotfi Ben Jedou, a former prosecutor, was selected as interior minister.

The remaining posts have been divided among members from the Islamist Ennahda party, the center-left Ettakatol and the secular Congress for the Republic.