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Denied New Government, Tunisian Premier Resigns

World  (tags: 'CIVILLIBERTIES!', 'HUMANRIGHTS!', africa, conflict, ethics, freedoms, government, HumanRights, humanrights, politics, society, world )

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Tunisia's prime minister resigned on Tues. after failing to form a new government, saying the country's political leaders, including those in his governing Islamist party, had "disappointed" Tunisians with squabbling that had led the country into a pol

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JL A. (287)
Friday February 22, 2013, 9:19 am

The New York Times

February 19, 2013
Denied New Government, Tunisian Premier Resigns

TUNIS — Tunisia’s prime minister resigned on Tuesday after failing to form a new government, saying the country’s political leaders, including those in his governing Islamist party, had “disappointed” Tunisians with squabbling that had led the country into a political crisis.

In a televised speech that struck many here as a rare display of accountability by a politician, the prime minister, Hamadi Jebali, said he was following through on a promise to resign if his initiative failed. “Our people are looking for credibility,” he said. “It is important for our people to have a clearer vision of the future.”

His Renaissance Party, which leads Tunisia’s coalition government, said it intended to renominate him as prime minister. Mr. Jebali said in his speech that he would serve only if certain conditions were met, including that any new government set a date for elections.

The resignation was part of the continuing turmoil from the assassination two weeks ago of a leftist opposition leader, Chokri Belaid, by unknown gunmen outside his home in Tunis. The killing stoked fears that political violence could threaten one of the region’s more hopeful political transitions two years after a revolt deposed the autocratic president, Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali.

Tens of thousands of people marched in Mr. Belaid’s funeral, many expressing anger at the Renaissance Party (Ennahda in Arabic) for failing to confront periodic episodes of violence by hard-line Islamists, known as Salafis, and other groups. More broadly, the killing focused anger at a government seen as more adept at squabbling than at solving pressing issues like the crippling economic crisis or the reform of security institutions.

In an effort to contain that anger, Mr. Jebali, who also serves as the Renaissance Party’s secretary general, publicly defied his movement and said he was pushing ahead with a long-delayed cabinet reshuffle and replacing ministers tied to political parties with technocrats. The street violence calmed, but negotiations over the last week failed to achieve an agreement on what a new government would look like.

The prime minister and fellow leaders of the Renaissance Party tried to smooth over their differences, but the spat, along with the public anger, was a blow to a movement that had held itself up as an example to other Islamist groups in the region seeking to navigate mainstream politics. Last week, Abdelfattah Mourou, a founder of the Renaissance Party, criticized its leaders for making the political crisis worse.

In his speech, Mr. Jebali said he had made his proposal to “save the country and stop the violence.” A neutral government, “free from political fights,” would serve the people, he said, adding, “I am still convinced this is the best way.”

Najib Gharbi, a spokesman for the Renaissance Party, said it was not to blame for the latest impasse, adding that while he appreciated Mr. Jebali’s efforts, the party had a longstanding position that a political coalition was better than a government of technocrats.

“Politicians who fought for a long time and worked hard for the revolution are also qualified to be part of the government,” Mr. Gharbi said. “I guess Jebali doesn’t agree anymore.”

Even so, he said, the party intended to nominate Mr. Jebali to be the prime minister of a new government, if Mr. Jebali consented. Other analysts said the party was considering several other members as candidates, including the interior, justice and health ministers.

Radwan Masmoudi, who leads the Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy and is close to the Renaissance Party’s leaders, said an agreement to form a new government was “probably close” but faced several challenges. Among them, he said, is the Islamist group’s insistence on retaining key government portfolios, including the Interior Ministry. Opposition parties have singled out that ministry as sorely in need of reform.

The speech left Mr. Jebali’s position in his party unclear. Mr. Masmoudi said that while the speech had been “statesmanlike,” the prime minister was in danger of losing his base. “He can’t be a leader if he doesn’t have a political party behind him,” he said.

But Noomane Fehri, a member of Tunisia’s constituent assembly who belongs to a liberal opposition party, said he had found the speech refreshing.

“He did what he said he would do,” Mr. Fehri said. “He continued to be a man you can trust.”

Michael Kirkby (91)
Friday February 22, 2013, 9:22 am
What did he expect. They want Sharia law for all people with no exceptions. That is a theocratic dictatorship - not a democracy or a republic.

JL A. (287)
Friday February 22, 2013, 11:49 am
Thanks for starting the discussion Michael.You cannot currently send a star to Michael because you have done so within the last week.

Lin Penrose (92)
Friday February 22, 2013, 5:42 pm
Thanks J.L. Perhaps they will "squabble" themselves into leaders (predators) that will consume the country. I think that is happening in quite a few countries (governments) around the world. Ours, the U.S.A included. Although it reads that Mr. Jebali has a strength to be a good leader of Tunisia.

Let's hope the entire planet will escape in a habitable state, with an intelligent life form after the "squabbles" of humans for power and control are diminished. We humans are simply too many demanding too much. We are getting increasingly mean and nasty about our demands. Wonder why.


JL A. (287)
Friday February 22, 2013, 6:33 pm
You are welcome Lin. Thank you for sharing all of your insights and observations. You cannot currently send a star to Lin because you have done so within the last week.

Ro H. (0)
Sunday February 24, 2013, 11:51 am

Birgit W. (155)
Sunday February 24, 2013, 4:19 pm
Thank you

JL A. (287)
Sunday February 24, 2013, 6:18 pm
You are welcome Ro and Birgit

Kirsten Taufer (43)
Monday February 25, 2013, 10:51 am
Whenever I hear about a leftist leadermysteriously being assassinated, I immediately think CIA/IMF/World Bank, since a destabilized nation is so much easier to rape of her natural resources than one that has a healthy middle class.

JL A. (287)
Monday February 25, 2013, 11:06 am
Excellent observation Kristen! You cannot currently send a star to Kirsten because you have done so within the last week.
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