News / Middle East

Tunisia Ruling Party Leader Calls for Non-Partisan Cabinet

Then-Tunisian PM Hamadi Jebali arriving for a round of consultations with other political parties at the Carthage Palace in Tunis, February 15, 2013 file photo.Then-Tunisian PM Hamadi Jebali arriving for a round of consultations with other political parties at the Carthage Palace in Tunis, February 15, 2013 file photo.
x
Then-Tunisian PM Hamadi Jebali arriving for a round of consultations with other political parties at the Carthage Palace in Tunis, February 15, 2013 file photo.
Then-Tunisian PM Hamadi Jebali arriving for a round of consultations with other political parties at the Carthage Palace in Tunis, February 15, 2013 file photo.
Reuters
The secretary-general of Tunisia's ruling Islamist party said on Wednesday he favored a non-partisan cabinet in what may be a significant concession to the secular opposition after weeks of anti-government unrest.

Tens of thousands rallied on Tuesday in downtown Tunis in an escalation of protests since the July 25 assassination of opposition figure Mohammad Brahmi, the second such killing this year. Radical Islamists were blamed for both attacks.

“We need to form a non-political government to lead the country to elections within six months,” said Hamadi Jebali, the second-ranking leader in the moderate Islamist Ennahda party.

The opposition is angry about the two assassinations and has been emboldened by the Egyptian military's removal of President Mohamed Morsi last month after mass protests against his perceived attempts to entrench Islamist control of the state.

Jebali's gesture appeared to depart from Ennahda's standing rejection of opposition demands for the dismissal of Prime Minister Ali Larayedh. But the final word rests with party chairman Rached Ghannouchi, who has not commented.

Jebali also called for the Constituent Assembly to complete its drafting of a constitution and electoral law in a few weeks to help defuse Tunisia's worst political crisis since secular autocrat Zine el-Abidine Ali fell to a popular uprising in 2011.

The instability has worsened as jihadi militants step up attacks. Ghannouchi was due on Wednesday to meet Hussein Abassi, the head of Tunisia's powerful UGTT union federation which has good relations with opposition parties, to discuss ways to end the political crisis. It would be the second such meeting this week.

Hamma Hammami, a senior figure in the Salvation Front, which groups more than 10 secular opposition parties, said the opposition would only negotiate with Ennahda after the dissolution of the Islamist-led government.

New constitution

The Salvation Front called in a statement on Wednesday for a campaign to dismiss all Islamist governors appointed by the Ennahda-led government, and said it would continue to mobilize efforts to topple the country's Islamist rulers.

Ghannouchi told Reuters in interview last week that his party was open to dialog with secular opponents but that removing Prime Minister Ali Larayedh was out of the question.

The opposition wants to void the transitional parliament that has been drafting a new constitution and electoral law, fearing that it will cement Islamist domination in a country traditionally one of the most secular in the Arab world.

Secularists aim to announce an alternative “salvation government” next week, suggesting little prospect of compromise.

The head of the transitional parliament, a member of a secular party in the unsteady government coalition, suspended the legislature a week ago in protest at a lack of meaningful talks between Ennahda and the opposition.

Unlike in Egypt, where the army helped protestors oust President Hosni Mubarak in 2011, Tunisia's armed forces do not have a large, lucrative stake in the economy and have not traditionally intervened in politics. Few observers expect Tunisia's military to step in to resolve the current crisis.

You May Like

Obama: Alaskans Feel Signs of Climate Change

They're seeing bigger storm surges as sea ice melts, more wildfires, erosion of glaciers, shorelines More

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

Magical Photo Slides Show Native Americans in Late 1800s

Walter McClintock spent 20 years photographing the Blackfoot Indians and their vanishing culture at the dawn of the modern age More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs