Tunisia's PM Ali Laareydh unveils Islamist-led coalition government

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 09 March, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 09 March, 2013, 2:56am


Tunisian Prime Minister Ali Laareydh unveiled a new Islamist-led coalition government yesterday that he said would serve only until an election is held before the end of the year.

The new government is led by the Islamist Ennahda party, backed by the centre-left Ettakatol and the secular Congress for the Republic led by President Moncef Marzouki - the same parties in the previous cabinet.

Laareydh replaced Hamad Jebali, who resigned following the assassination of secular politician Chokri Belaid on February 6, which provoked the worst unrest in Tunisia since the uprising that overthrew president Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali two years ago.

Ennahda ceded control of several key ministries in the new cabinet, with career diplomat Othman Jarandi named foreign minister, Lotfi Ben Jedou interior minister and Rachid Sabbagh defence minister.

Ben Jedou and Sabbagh are both judges. Ben Jedou took part in an investigation into the killing of dozens of young men during the uprising that toppled Ben Ali and inspired revolts against autocrats in other Arab countries.

Laarayedh, the outgoing interior minister, was tapped on February 22 to head the new cabinet, with a deadline of midnight yesterday for him to present his team and government programme to Marzouki.

Ennahda, to which Laarayedh also belongs, had made a key concession in accepting that key ministries - notably interior, foreign, justice and defence - be entrusted to independents.

Ennahda is deeply mistrusted by a large section of the secular opposition, which accuses it of authoritarian tendencies and trying to bring about the Islamisation of Tunisian society.

After Marzouki reviews the plan, the new line-up must be approved by the National Constituent Assembly within three days.

In addition to the political upheaval, violence and attacks blamed on the ultra-conservative Muslim Salafist movement have rocked Tunisia in recent months.


Additional reporting by Agence France-Presse