Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali’s call Wednesday evening to form a government of non-political technocrats has sparked debate over whether or not the prime minister can take such action and if creating a new government would serve the needs of the country.
Jebali’s televised announcement followed the assassination Wednesday morning of opposition leader Chokri Belaid.
But Jebali’s ruling Ennahdha party rejected the prime minister’s decision Thursday, saying he had not consulted with the party first. In an official statement, the party said the government still requires people with political experience and should preserve the ruling Troïka coalition.
During his speech Wednesday, Jebali assured Tunisians that a government of technocrats would allow change to happen faster. Negotiations have been ongoing for weeks concerning a cabinet reshuffle.
Jebali outlined a plan for a government that would include fewer ministers, with more specific duties, who were insulated from the political scene. He promised to make sure that a constitution will be ready as soon as possible and that presidential elections will take place sooner than anticipated.
Jebali said from his perspective the government didn’t fail, but just stopped functioning properly, which requires a fast intervention to create a more efficient body.
He said Tunisians should work together. “We are different but should unite in the love for this country,” Jebali said. ”We will not kill each other just because of our differences.”
Amine Mahfoudh, a professor of constitutional law at the University of Sousse, said that even though the prime minister might not technically have the power to call for a new government, that it is the best option for the country at this point in time.
He said that this action might be the last chance to avoid popular demands for the dissolution of the National Constituent Assembly (NCA), which would lead to a political crisis.
The repercussions of Ennahdha’s rejection of Jebali’s plan are serious and, in his opinion, include three possibilities: the resignation of Jebali from Ennahdha and the political scene; the creation of a new party by Jebali and his sympathizers within Ennahdha; or a popular demand to find a solution out of the NCA and a rejection of all the assembly’s decisions.
From Mahfoudh’s perspective, for Jebali’s plan to be legally accepted, he must first resign from his position, and this resignation must be accepted by the president. Then, the president would charge Jebali with forming a new government.
Samir Bettaieb, a NCA member from the Al Massar political party, said Jebali could suggest the plan to the NCA and then members could vote on it.
Fadhel Moussa, another member of Al Massar in the NCA and the dean of the Tunis Law School, said he believed Jebali’s plan would be beneficial for the country.
We need “to stop this political mess and achieve a better stable political scene,” he said. Tunisia must “not deviate from the democratic path we are working on.”