Tunisia’s political parties should agree on PM candidate by weekend- meditator

By bne IntelliNews November 20, 2013

Tunisia’s ruling Islamic Ennahda and the opposition need to agree on the name of the future PM before the weekend following weeks of delay, spokesperson of the quartet, which is mediating for a consensus, Fadhel Mahfoudh, was cited as saying by state news agency TAP. Mahfoudh, who was speaking after his meeting with the National Constituent Assembly (NCA) President Mustapha Ben Jaafar, underscored that parties should reach a consensus within days. The new PM was expected to be announced on November 2 but Ennahda and the opposition failed to agree on one candidate and talks were suspended.

Ahmed Mestiri and Mohamed Ennaceur are among the shortlisted candidates that also include Mustapha Kamel Nabli and Jalloul Ayed. Ennahda’s leader Rached Ghannouchi reiterated, on Nov 19, his party's support to the candidacy of Ahmed Mestiri voicing openness to any other candidacy.

In October, Ennahda started negotiations with the secular opposition on a road map that will pave the way for the formation of a new neutral government ahead of new parliamentary elections. The current government was supposed to resign at the end of three weeks of talks if rival parties agree on a new PM. But the talks’ suspension will likely prolong the transitional period.

Tunisia has been in a political deadlock since February 2013 when an opposition leader was gunned down in the capital Tunis. The opposition has called for the resignation of the government but Ennahda has refused to do so.

Fitch and S&P have already downgraded Tunisia's ratings by one notch on political uncertainty and its potential damaging economic impact.

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