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Tunisia ruling party rejects prime minister's call for new Cabinet

A woman raises her fist in protest Thursday during a rally in Tunisia’s capital of Tunis. Tensions have grown after the slaying of Chokri Belaid, a fierce government critic.

Associated Press

A woman raises her fist in protest Thursday during a rally in Tunisia’s capital of Tunis. Tensions have grown after the slaying of Chokri Belaid, a fierce government critic.

TUNIS, Tunisia — Tunisia's Islamist-led government Thursday rejected a proposal by its prime minister to form a new Cabinet amid growing political tension after nationwide protests sparked by the assassination of a key opposition figure.

The announcement by the dominant Nahda party highlighted differences among Islamists and spurred fresh uncertainty over how to keep the slaying of Chokri Belaid, a fierce government critic, from tipping the economically fragile country into deeper unrest.

Tunisia's main labor union heightened the pressure by calling for a one-day general strike to coincide with Belaid's funeral today.

Much of the country was on edge on a rainy, cold Thursday. Stone-throwing protesters clashed briefly with security forces in the capital, Tunis. The most intense violence erupted in the phosphate mining city of Gafsa, where one person was reportedly killed as youths threw gasoline bombs at police firing tear gas.

The opposition supports Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali's proposal for a Cabinet of technocrats to run the country until new elections. But Nahda was dismayed by the suggestion, and reports indicated that some officials want Jebali, secretary-general of the organization, censured or possibly removed from the party.

"The prime minister did not ask the opinion of his party," Abdelhamid Jlazzi, Nahda's vice president, told the Tunisian news media. "We in Nahda believe Tunisia needs a political government now. We will continue discussions with other parties about forming a coalition government."

Tunisia ruling party rejects prime minister's call for new Cabinet 02/07/13 [Last modified: Thursday, February 7, 2013 11:01pm]
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