Tunisian parties agree on new premier to lead as Islamists step down
Tunisia’s ruling Islamists and opposition parties have agreed to name the country’s current industry minister as prime minister of a caretaker technocrat cabinet to govern until elections next year. The appointment is the first step in an agreement that will see moderate Islamist party Ennahda hand over power in the next few weeks to end a crisis that threatened Tunisia’s transition to democracy after its 2011 uprising.
Three years after its protests against autocrat Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali inspired Arab uprisings elsewhere, Tunisia has been struggling to overcome disputes over the role of Islam in one of the Arab world’s most secular countries.
After weeks of wrangling, parties agreed on Saturday to name Mehdi Jomaa, an aerospace engineer by training, as premier in a deal between Islamist party Ennahda and a coalition of secular parties led by a former Ben Ali official.
“Despite the difficulties, we have managed to reach an agreement over the name of Mehdi Jomaa,” Hussein Abassi, head of the UGTT union movement that brokered the talks, told reporters. “The next government should be independent and nonpartisan to led the country to elections.”