Tunisia’s new prime minister-designate vowed to form a government within a week in a bid to bridge a growing political divide that’s hindering efforts to restore stability in the country.
Mehdi Jomaa, an industry minister under the outgoing government headed by the Ennahda Party, said in comments aired on Shams FM radio that the new cabinet would favor no political or ideological groups.
The comments marked a push by the technocrat to build broader backing after opposition groups and the ruling coalition failed for weeks to settle on a nominee for premier.
Jomaa secured the support Dec. 14 of nine parties, while two others withdrew from the process. Another group, the Popular Front, which had two officials assassinated over the past year, refused to vote. Out of 21 parties involved in the process, only 11 cast votes.
“The new government will see light within a week, maximum, and young people will have the lion’s share in it,” said Jomaa, whose government is slated to stay in power until new elections are held. He defeated Jalul Ayad, an economist and former finance minister. The date for elections has yet to be set.
Tunisia, whose uprising against President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali sparked what came to be known as the Arab Spring, has seen its transition stymied by disputes between the Islamist government and opposition groups, including secularists, who argue the Islamist Ennahda has failed to bring about significant changes.
Tunisia’s five-year credit default swaps rose 47.5 basis points this year to 402.5, in contrast with a regional average decline of 9 basis points to 258, according to data provider CMA, which is owned by McGraw-Hill Cos. and compiles prices quoted by dealers in the privately negotiated market.
The opposition maintains Ennahda has failed to take a firm stand against hardline Islamists, including those they accuse of being behind the killings. The death of the officials helped spark the political crisis that gave rise to the so-called “national dialogue.”
Jomaa “is not a compromise candidate because a number of parties did not participate,” Iyad Dahmani, a member of the Republican Party’s executive office, said in an interview. The party withdrew from the national dialogue.
Ennahda has sought to allay concerns, arguing that it has made sacrifices, including agreeing to step down, in order to ensure the stability of Tunisia.
Jomaa is a “worthy” successor and is known for his “integrity and independence,” Rashid Ghannouchi, the party’s president, told reporters on Dec. 14.
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