Mobile  |  About us  |  Photos  |  Videos  |  Subscriptions  |  RSS Feeds  |  Today's Paper  |  Classifieds  |  Contact Us
The Daily Star
SATURDAY, 19 APR 2014
10:20 AM Beirut time
Weather    
Beirut
22 °C
Blom Index
BLOM
1,214.01down
Middle East
Follow this story Print RSS Feed ePaper share this
Tunisia's new PM takes office after Islamists resign
Reuters
(FILES) A picture taken on December 18, 2013, in Tunis shows newly appointed Prime Minister Mehdi Jomaa waiting for a meeting at the Tunisian Constituent Assembly. AFP PHOTO / FETHI BELAID
(FILES) A picture taken on December 18, 2013, in Tunis shows newly appointed Prime Minister Mehdi Jomaa waiting for a meeting at the Tunisian Constituent Assembly. AFP PHOTO / FETHI BELAID
A+ A-

TUNIS: Tunisia's new premier Mehdi Jomaa took office on Friday to lead a caretaker government until elections later this year after the ruling Islamist party's premier resigned in a deal to complete its steps to democracy.

Jomaa, a former industry minister, will head a non-partisan cabinet after compromise between the Islamists and secular opponents to end a crisis three years after Tunisia's uprising against autocrat Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali.

The small North African nation has edged closer to establishing full democracy since 2011 than other "Arab Spring" countries, especially Egypt whose Islamist president faces trial after he was ousted by the military.

"I am not a miracle worker, but I promise I will do my best we are doing everything possible to overcome hurdles, to reform what we can reform, and bring back stability," Jomaa told reporters in the presidential palace.

The former premier, Ali Larayedh, an Islamist who spent years in jail under Ben Ali, resigned on Thursday. Jomaa will name his cabinet over the next few days.

The new premier, who ran an aerospace parts business in Paris before he become minister, must tackle economic reforms sought by international lenders to curb the deficit and face a growing threat from Islamist militants tied to al Qaeda.

Police fired tear gas on Friday in the tourist city of Sousse to disperse dozens of ultra-conservative Islamist supporters of group hardline group Ansar al-Sharia, who tried to protest in the streets.

"They gathered after Friday prayers and tried to reach the central Sousse but police fired tear gas and dispersed them," a security source told Reuters.

One of the hardline Islamist movements to emerge after the 2011 revolt, Ansar al-Sharia in Tunisia was declared illegal last year after the government blamed it for killing two opposition politicians.

On Friday, the U.S. Department of State declared the group a foreign terrorist organisation tied to al Qaeda's North Africa affiliate. It was blamed for inciting the storming the U.S. embassy in Tunis a year ago.

Since the political agreement reached late last year for a handover to a technocrat administration, Tunisia has edged closer to democracy. The national assembly is voting on the new constitution and a nine-member election commission has been appointed to over a vote later this year.

One of the most secular countries in the Arab world, Tunisia struggled with divisions over the role of Islam and the rise of militants since its uprising. But the assassination of the two opposition leaders last year triggered a crisis.

After months of negotiations, Ennahda agreed to resign once it had guarantees that the political parties would finish writing the new constitution, set a date for elections and appoint an electoral council to oversee the vote.

Political progress aside, many Tunisians are more worried about the high cost of living and some see little economic opportunity after the uprising that inspired revolts against long-standing autocrats in Egypt, Libya and Yemen.

Jomaa's government will have to tackle economic reforms to cut back its deficit -- especially the tough cuts in public subsidies that risk pushing up fuel and food prices and inflaming popular protests. 

Police fired tear gas this week to break up protests in several cities over an increase on vehicle taxes, and Larayedh's government on Thursday suspended the reform.

Lenders such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund want Tunisia to reform public wages and subsidies to curb a deficit the government forecast at 6.8 percent of gross domestic product for last year.

The IMF has forecast the budget deficit for 2013 at 8.8 percent of GDP.

Tunisia said this week it expected it had done enough -- in its political transition and economic measures to control the deficit -- to ensure payment of a second $500 million tranche of its $1.5 billion IMF loan.

 
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
Story Summary
Tunisia's new premier Mehdi Jomaa took office on Friday to lead a caretaker government until elections later this year after the ruling Islamist party's premier resigned in a deal to complete its steps to democracy.

Jomaa, a former industry minister, will head a non-partisan cabinet after compromise between the Islamists and secular opponents to end a crisis three years after Tunisia's uprising against autocrat Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali.

One of the hardline Islamist movements to emerge after the 2011 revolt, Ansar al-Sharia in Tunisia was declared illegal last year after the government blamed it for killing two opposition politicians.

Tunisia said this week it expected it had done enough -- in its political transition and economic measures to control the deficit -- to ensure payment of a second $500 million tranche of its $1.5 billion IMF loan.
Related Articles
 
 
Tunisia premier wants to fix economy
 
 
Tunisia arrests Islamist militants after bomb mishap
 
 
Tunisia’s prime minister wants to fix ailing economy
 
 
Obama: US to provide loan guarantees for Tunisia
 
 
Tunisia court orders release of former Ben Ali officials
Show More
Entities
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- Friday April 18, 2014
View all view all
Advertisement
Rami G. Khouri
Rami G. Khouri
Why Israeli-Palestinian talks fail
Michael Young
Michael Young
Why confuse gibberish with knowledge?
David Ignatius
David Ignatius
Echoes of 1914 characterize the Ukraine crisis
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