Monday 18 December 2017

Tunisia's major Islamist party seeks crisis deal

Caroline Alexander

Tunisia's most powerful Islamist party has said that it is talking with partners to find a solution for the political crisis that has worsened since the February 6 killing of a senior opposition figure.

Ennahda is discussing the formation of "a consensus government", local agencies quoted senior party member Riadh Shuaibi as saying yesterday.

The push by the moderate Islamist group, which is the biggest party in Tunisia's coalition government, comes as the secular Congress for the Republic party, known as CPR, that's led by President Moncef Marzouki, said it would delay plans to leave the Cabinet.

The talks reflect broader efforts to find middle ground as the nation witnesses the worst unrest since the removal of President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in 2011, an event that ignited the Arab Spring.

The announcements give Prime Minister Hamadi Jbeli of Ennahda more time to reach a compromise between his proposal for a new technocrat government and other calls for a unity government.

The murder of Chukri Beleid, leader of the opposition Democratic Patriots, has exacerbated tensions, with secular opposition groups accusing Ennahda of colluding with extremists in the killing, a charge it denies.

"There is to some extent a softening of the tones and positions on both sides," Riccardo Fabiani, a London analyst, said. "It's now time for talks and negotiations."

Irish Independent

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