Tunisia: Hardline Islamist asked to govern


The Tunisian President yesterday asked the Interior Minister Ali Larayedh, a hardliner from the main Islamist Ennahda party, to form a government within  two weeks.

President Moncef Marzouki’s spokesman told a news conference that Ennahda leader Rached Ghannouchi had formally nominated Mr Larayedh to succeed outgoing Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali, who resigned on Tuesday.

Tunisia plunged into political crisis on 6 February when the assassination of secular opposition politician Chokri Belaid ignited the biggest street protests since the overthrow of strongman Zine  al-Abidine Ben Ali two years ago.

Ennahda’s choice for prime minister raised hackles among opposition parties, some of whom accuse Mr Larayedh’s Interior Ministry of failing to curb Islamist violence.

“The decision deepens the crisis because Larayedh headed the ministry responsible for the killing of Belaid and violence that has spread throughout the country,” said Zied Lakhdar, a leader in the Popular Front, in which Mr Belaid was secretary-general.

The Interior Ministry and Ennahda have denied they had any hand in Mr Belaid’s killing, which they have condemned.