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Tunisia Ex-PM Jomaa Launches 'Non-ideological' Political Party


FILE - Tunisia's then prime minister Mehdi Jomaa speaks during a news conference in Tunis, Jan. 26, 2014.

Tunisia's former Prime Minister Mehdi Jomaa launched a new political party on Wednesday which he said would be non-ideological and could "restore hope for Tunisians" frustrated by the country's transition.

Jomaa led a technocratic government in 2014, a year that ended with free elections and a new constitution seen as key steps following the 2011 overthrow of Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.

For the past two years, Tunisia has been governed by a coalition led by the secularist Nidaa Tounes party and the moderate Islamist party Ennahda.

National politics can still be highly polarized, and some of the problems that helped fuel the 2011 protests remain unresolved, including high unemployment and the continued marginalization of rural areas.

"After two years since 2014, we passed from hope to frustration, a difficult situation, a lack of strategy, favoritism and corruption," Jomaa said. "We want to restore hope for Tunisians through our alternative party."

Jomaa's Tunisian Alternative Party includes a large number of former ministers and technocrats, among them former central bank governor Mustafa Kamal Aabli, ex-economy minister Nidhal Ourefelli, and former World Bank expert Hedi Bel Arbi.

Jomaa said the party would be non-ideological, merit-based and open to all. Local elections at the end of the year are likely to be the party's first electoral test.

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