Mobile  |  About us  |  Photos  |  Videos  |  Subscriptions  |  RSS Feeds  |  Today's Paper  |  Classifieds  |  Contact Us
The Daily Star
FRIDAY, 25 APR 2014
12:47 AM Beirut time
Weather    
Beirut
22 °C
Blom Index
BLOM
1,214.01down
Middle East
Follow this story Print RSS Feed ePaper share this
Independents named as Tunisia foreign, defence ministers
Reuters
Tunisian President Moncef Marzouki meets with Islamist ruling Ennahda party leader Rached Ghannouchi (unseen), on February 20, 2013, in Carthage palace in Tunis. AFP PHOTO / FETHI BELAID
Tunisian President Moncef Marzouki meets with Islamist ruling Ennahda party leader Rached Ghannouchi (unseen), on February 20, 2013, in Carthage palace in Tunis. AFP PHOTO / FETHI BELAID
A+ A-

TUNIS: Independents will take over the foreign and defence ministries in Tunisia's new government under a deal by the ruling Islamist party to cede key portfolios following violent unrest over the assassination of a secular opposition leader.

The new coalition of moderate Islamists, three secular parties and non-partisan figures aims to restore stability and prepare the troubled North African state, where the Arab Spring uprisings began in 2011, for elections later this year.

President Moncef Marzouki asked Interior Minister Ali Larayedh of the Islamist Ennahda party on Feb. 22 to form a government within 15 days after Ennahda Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali resigned.

Coalition sources said Othman Jarandi, a former Tunisian ambassador to the United Nations, Oman, South Korea and Pakistan, had been named as foreign minister to capitalise on his strong ties with international bodies and the West.

Tunisia needs to negotiate a $1.78 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund. The political turmoil has set back that quest and prompted Standard and Poor's to lower its long-term foreign and local currency sovereign credit rating of Tunisia.

"There is a preliminary agreement that Othman Jarandi will be foreign minister, and Abdelhak Lassoued will replace the current defence minister, Abdelkarim Zbidi, who wants to leave," a coalition source told Reuters. A second source confirmed the development but declined to give details.

Lassoued, 76, has not held a cabinet post before but served in the civil service under Tunisia's first post-independence president, Habib Bourguiba.

Ennahda said last week it would allow independent figures to take over key ministries in the next government in a concession to the non-Islamist opposition.

At least 10 members of Jebali's former cabinet will stay on, including Mohamed Ben Salem as agriculture minister and Samir Dilou as human rights minister - both members of Ennahda, as well as Culture Minister Mehdi Mabrouk, an independent.

Former businessman Elyess Fakhfakh, from secular party Ettakatol, would retain the post of finance minister in the new government, sources told Reuters.

Zbidi had held the defence portfolio since shortly after Tunisia's January 2011 popular revolution that ousted veteran dictator Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali. Under Zbidi, the military helped keep public order while staying out of politics.

Tunisia plunged into political crisis a month ago when the assassination of secular opposition politician Chokri Belaid ignited the biggest street protests since Ben Ali's overthrow.

Ennahda denied any part in Belaid's killing but secularists had long complained that Jebali's government was too tolerant of Islamist radicals suspected to be behind the attack. Ben Ali's regime spent decades suppressing Islamists.

The new government will be under intense pressure to tackle high unemployment, raise wages and revive economic growth.

The so-called Jasmine Revolution in 2011 was the first of several Arab uprisings. Tunisia's political transition has been more peaceful than those in neighbouring Egypt and Libya, but tensions are festering between Islamists elected to power and liberals who fear the loss of hard-won liberties.

While Islamists played no major role in the Tunisian revolt, the struggle over Islam's role in government and society has emerged as one of the most divisive political issues.

 
Home Middle East
 
     
 
Tunisia
Advertisement
Comments  

Your feedback is important to us!

We invite all our readers to share with us their views and comments about this article.

Disclaimer: Comments submitted by third parties on this site are the sole responsibility of the individual(s) whose content is submitted. The Daily Star accepts no responsibility for the content of comment(s), including, without limitation, any error, omission or inaccuracy therein. Please note that your email address will NOT appear on the site.

comments powered by Disqus
Advertisement


Baabda 2014
Advertisement
Follow us on Facebook Follow us on Twitter Follow us on Linked In Follow us on Google+ Subscribe to our Live Feed
Multimedia
Images  
Pictures of the day
A selection of images from around the world- Thursday April 24, 2014
View all view all
Advertisement
Rami G. Khouri
Rami G. Khouri
Israel shows Zionism’s true colors
Michael Young
Michael Young
For Christians, blessed are the dividers
David Ignatius
David Ignatius
An Iran deal is close, but we’re not there yet
View all view all
Advertisement
cartoon
 
Click to View Articles
 
 
News
Business
Opinion
Sports
Culture
Technology
Entertainment
Privacy Policy | Anti-Spamming Policy | Disclaimer | Copyright Notice
© 2014 The Daily Star - All Rights Reserved - Designed and Developed By IDS