Nine Tunisian parties elect Mehdi Jomaa as interim PM
Tunisian Industry Minister Mehdi Jomaa takes an oath of office on March 13, 2013 at the Carthage Palace in Tunis (AFP/File, Fethi Belaid)
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Tunisia’s Islamist-led government Ennahda and main opposition parties have agreed on Saturday to nominate Minister of Industry Mehdi Jomaa as interim prime minister, sources said.
The announcement was the result of negotiations between Tunisia’s main parties, which were held a day after 92-year-old Mustapha Filali - a candidate that both sides agreed on - ruled himself out due to his age.
During the negotiations to choose the new interim premier, three Tunisian parties withdrew from the talks due to their opposition to Jomaa's candidacy, Al Arabiya News Channel's correspondent reported.
The Tunisian General Labour Union (UGTT), which has been working as a mediator in the dialogues, had originally given parties until 1100 GMT Saturday to find another candidate for the position, threatening to announce the failure of the talks.
The head of the powerful UGTT union announced the choice Saturday night of 50-year-old Mehdi Jomaa. He won the vote in a contentious forum of political parties, dubbed the "national dialogue," which began meeting in October. Jomaa has three weeks to form a government.
The union later announced on social networking site Facebook that the talks had been postponed until an unspecified time.
Late on arrival
The decision to postpone the meeting came after members from all parties were late to arrive at the talks, according to AFP.
Chaos broke out in the North African country after opposition MP Mohammad Brahmi was assassinated by suspected jihadists in July.
Brahmi's murder triggered calls for the resignation of the coalition government, led by moderate Islamist party Ennahda.
Under a roadmap proposed in October by mediators to end the country’s political turmoil, Ennahda and the opposition pledged to negotiate an interim government composed of independents.
An interim and independent prime minister were scheduled to be nominated in early November, but the deadline was continually pushed back.
On Thursday, Tunisia’s ruling party and the main opposition parties agreed on Filali, who had served as agriculture minister under Tunisia's founding president Habib Bourguiba.
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