Tunisia’s Islamist PM steps down as unrest mounts

Prime Minister Ali Larayedh resigned as part of a plan to end months of political deadlock

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Tunisia's Islamist Prime Minister Ali Larayedh resigned on Thursday to make way for a caretaker government as part of a deal with his opponents to finish a transitional period.

“I have just handed my resignation to the president,” Larayedh told reporters, in statements carried by Reuters. “I hope the country will be a model for democratic transition,” he added.

Larayedh hails from Tunisia’s moderate Islamist Ennahda Party.

He is to be replaced within 15 days by premier designate Mehdi Jomaa at the head of a government of technocrats that will lead the country to fresh elections under a new constitution.

Larayedh agreed to step down following lengthy negotiations with the opposition, triggered by a political crisis that gripped the country since the assassination of a leftist politician in July.

The resignation of the Ennahda-led government has been seen as an implicit admission of the Islamists' failure to manage the transition following the 2011 overthrow of Tunisia's Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.

Tunisia's assembly is in the process of approving a new constitution, and elections for a new government will be held this year.

(With AP and AFP)

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