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Outgoing Tunisian PM to stand down

Tunis - Tunisia's outgoing prime minister, Hamadi Jebali, has refused to head the next government and his Islamist Ennahda party will name a replacement, a party statement said on Thursday.

Jebali, who is secretary-general of Ennahda, resigned on Tuesday after his plan for an apolitical technocrat cabinet to prepare for elections collapsed, largely because of opposition from within his party and its leader, Rached Ghannouchi.

Tunisian Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali (foreground) arrives for a round of consultations with other political parties at the Carthage Palace in Tunis in this file photograph from February 15. Jebali resigned on February 19, after his attempt to form a government of technocrats and end a political crisis failed. Credit: Reuters

“Jebali declined to accept nomination (as next primes minister),” Ennahda said. “A new candidate will be presented to the president of the republic this week.”

The assassination of secular opposition leader Chokri Belaid on February 6 plunged Tunisia into its worst political crisis since an uprising that inspired a wave of Arab revolts two years ago.

The killing sent protesters flooding into the streets, exposing the deep rifts between Tunisia's empowered Islamists and their liberal and secular-minded opponents.

Jebali had proposed a technocrat cabinet to replace his Ennahda-led coalition, which included two secular parties, to save Tunisia's fledgling democracy and ailing economy from further strife. - Reuters

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