Tunisia open to foreign help investigating Belaid’s murder: FM

Tunisian Foreign Minister Rafik Abdessalem told Al Arabiya in an interview on Tuesday the government is open to international assistance to investigate the assassination of liberal opposition leader Chokri Belaid.

Abdessalem said the assasins of Belaid “have interest in destabalizing the nation,” adding that the Islamist Ennahda party does not have an interest in Belaid's killing.

The foreign minister accused unnamed domestic and international parties of having carried out the assassination of Belaid.

The son-in-law of Ennahda leader Rachid El-Ghannouchi said: “Ennahda did not practice violence in its toughest times.”

After more than a week after Belaid's killing, Tunisia has passed the critical stage in which the country was on the verge of chaos, the foreign minister added.

Abdessalem said the majority ruling Islamist Ennahda party wants to maintain a political Cabinet, in clear challenge of the prime minister's plan to form a Cabinet of technocrats.

Abdessalem threatened that Ennahda could leave power if Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali insists on pushing forward with his plan.

“Ennahda could quit power if Jebali maintains his proposal. Everything is possible. It is not inevitable for Ennahda to stay in the government,” Abdessalem said.

“Dialogue continues. The doors are not closed,” Abdessalem said. Ennahda controls 89 of the 217 seats in the National Constituent Assembly after an October 2011 election.

Beji Caid Essebsi, the founder and chairman of the Nidaa Tounes, or “Call of Tunisia,” party, in a subsequent interview with Al Arabiya played down Ennahd’a threats to quit saying the Islamist group has worked hard to reach power it won’t just simply back down.

Last Update: Wednesday, 13 February 2013 KSA 01:41 - GMT 22:41