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Tunisia's prime minister, Hamadi Jebali, quits in wake of killing

The Tunisian Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali resigned last night after his attempt to end a political stand-off by forming a government of technocrats failed.

Mr Jebali had proposed the cabinet of apolitical members to quell turmoil caused by the assassination of the secular opposition politician Chokri Belaid on 6 February.

"I vowed that if my initiative did not succeed, I would resign and... I have already done so," Mr Jebali told a news conference after meeting with President Moncef Marzouki. Mr Belaid's death sparked mass protests targeting, in part, the ruling moderate Islamist party Ennahda, to which Mr Jebali belongs.

No one claimed responsibility for the killing, but it deepened the misgivings of secularists who believe Mr Jebali's government has failed to deal firmly enough with religious extremists threatening the country's stability. The crisis has disrupted efforts to revitalise an economy hit hard by the disorder that followed the overthrow of Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali in 2011.

Mr Jebali proposed forming an apolitical cabinet without consulting his own party or its secular coalition partners.

He threatened to quit if the proposal failed. But his party scuppered the plan by rejecting the idea of a technocratic government.

Mr Jebali said he would not lead without assurances on the timing of fresh elections and a new constitution.