Tunisia’s caretaker government approved

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iol pic afr Tunisia Constitution~15 Associated Press Parliament members listen as Tunisia's prime minister-elect, Mehdi Jomaa (centre), delivers his speech at the National Assembly in Tunis . Picture: Hassene Dridi


Tunis - Tunisia’s Parliament on Wednesday approved a technocratic caretaker government tasked with leading the country out of a bruising political crisis and to fresh elections.

After a marathon session broadcast live on national television, the line-up proposed by prime minister-designate Mehdi Jomaa was approved by 149 lawmakers, with 20 voting against and 24 abstaining.

The line-up was only agreed after weeks of horsetrading and will replace the government led by the Islamist Ennahda party, which accepted last year to step down as part of deal to end a crippling political crisis.

Jomaa, who was industry minister in the outgoing government, announced on Sunday that he finally clinched a deal on an apolitical line-up.

But he still faced a tougher than expected time on Tuesday in parliament, where he spent more than 12 hours fending off accusations that his caretaker cabinet included members of Zine El Abidine Ben Ali's former regime.

The once-banned Ennahda, now Tunisia's largest party, and the secular opposition have been at loggerheads over the legacy of the revolution that toppled Ben Ali three years ago.

The crisis deepened when two opposition MPs were assassinated by suspected jihadists last year.

Under the road map agreed by Tunisia's rival factions to end the impasse, parliamentary and presidential polls are due by the end of 2014.

In another late-night session on Sunday, parliament adopted a new constitution.

The new charter is the result of two years of acrimonious debate, including on the role of Islam and women's rights, but is regarded as the most modern in the Arab world.


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