Tunisian PM off to shaky start with failure to form cabinet within expected timeframe

Published January 26th, 2014 - 07:07 GMT

A consensus on Tunisia’s new cabinet has not yet been reached, Tunisia’s Prime Minister-designate Mehdi Jomaa announced Saturday.

The new cabinet line-up would oversee the run-up to fresh elections.

He had been expected to submit his line-up to President Moncef Marzouki Saturday but said: “I chose not to do it in order for a consensus to be reached.”

“For my part, my line-up is ready, it includes ministers of great quality but the security, social and economic situation make consensus a necessity,” Jomaa explained.

“I may be asked again (to form a new cabinet), or it could be somebody else,” he said.

A vote on at the National Constituent Assembly on the long-delayed new constitution is due on Sunday and the new line-up had been expected to go through a confidence vote on Tuesday.

Tunisia’s national assembly on Thursday finished approving all articles of the country’s new constitution just over three years after their uprising ousted autocratic leader Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.

Following their 2011 “Jasmine Revolution,” Tunisia is closest to full democracy after months of tensions led to a compromise between ruling Islamists and secular leaders that contrasts sharply with upheaval in Libya and Egypt.

Tunisia’s ruling moderate Islamist party Ennahda has stepped down in a deal to make way for a technocrat administration to govern until new elections later this year, the first vote under the new constitution.

Mostly applauded for its modernity, the new constitution had been delayed by political deadlock as Islamists and opposition parties squabbled over the role of Islam in one of the most secular Arab countries.

Tunisia’s new charter and the small North African country’s compromise between Islamist and secular leaders is seen as an example of political transition after the 2011 revolts.

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