Tunisia's Prime Minister Ali Larayedh reaffirmed Wednesday that his Islamist-led government was "committed to the principle" of resigning as outlined in the country's political transition road map, according to AFP reports.
The PM told reporters, "We repeat today our commitment to the principle of relinquishing power in line with the different phases envisaged in the road map. We will not submit to anyone except the interests of the country.”
Wednesday's announcement marks the first time that Larayedh committed his government to step down before the adoption of a new constitution. Previously, the PM has said that his Islamist Ennahda's resignation would happen after a new constitution was in place.
A national dialogue between the ruling Ennahda party and opposition leaders was scheduled to begin Wednesday in an effort to end a nearly four-month political deadlock in the country. However, the opposition has been "waiting for a clear commitment" from Larayedh that his party would follow-through with the roadmap stipulation that calls for Ennahda to step down from office within a three week period.
The start of Wednesday's proposed talks were delayed with Larayedh's announcement five hours after the proposed commencement of the dialogue. Opposition leaders have not immediately reacted and responded to the PM's statements as well.
Tunis was enveloped with thousands of opposition protestors Wednesday as well, who were calling for the PM and his Islamist party to "immediately depart" from office.
Under the road map, Ennahda is given a three week period to resign, starting from the time that the dialogue commences. The road map also includes terms to adopt a new constitution, electoral laws, and a timetable for fresh elections within a one month period.
While protesters in the capital called on Larayedh to step down, fighting erupted in the south part of the country in Sidi Bouzid between the National Guard and alleged militants. According to reports from Wednesday, six Tunisian police and two militants were killed in the clashes.
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