TUNIS, Tunisia – Tunisia’s prime minister announced his resignation Tuesday following a failed effort to form a technocratic government to see the country out of its political crisis.
The resignation is expected to further deepen the country’s political instability, which earlier Tuesday prompted Standard & Poor’s to downgrade the government’s credit rating.
Tunisians overthrew a dictator in January 2011, sparking the Arab Spring revolutions. A moderate Islamist party, Ennahda, won subsequent elections in the country of 10 million, and it has since struggled to govern in a coalition alongside two secular parties.
After the assassination of a leftist opposition politician on Feb. 6 set off riots across the country, Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali offered to dissolve the fractious governing coalition and put together a new government of technocrats – a move welcomed by the opposition.
But his own party, Ennahda, rejected his initiative, insisting that the country still needed a government of politicians. The rejection indicated that there are not only divisions among the various parties in Tunisia but also within Ennahda.
Jebali announced he’d quit after a meeting with President Moncef Marzouki, describing the move as what’s best for the country.
“I promised if my initiative did not succeed I would resign as head of the government, and this is what I am doing following my meeting with the president,” he said at the presidential palace. “Today there is a great disappointment among the people and we must regain their trust and this resignation is a first step.”
Kidnappers take French family
YAOUNDE, Cameroon – A French family of seven – including four children – was kidnapped on Tuesday in northern Cameroon, and officials suggested the involvement of one of Nigeria’s Islamic extremist sects.
Military helicopters were being used to search for the tourists.
The French gas group GDF Suez identified the captives as an employee working in the capital of Yaounde and his family. The group was vacationing.
“The three adult tourists and four children were picked up early today (Tuesday) by men riding on motorbikes who rode off toward the border into Nigeria,” the Far North Regional Delegate in the Ministry of Forest and Wildlife, Jean-David Ndjigba, said from the province’s capital of Maroua.