Tunisian Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali announced the failure of his proposal to form an nonpartisan cabinet of technocratic ministers at a press conference Monday that followed a four-hour long meeting with representatives of different political parties.
Negotiations over Jebali’s plan started last Friday, February 15, and resumed Monday. Jebali’s proposal was not approved by the majority of the National Constituent Assembly members, and thus a consensus over a technocratic cabinet was not reached.
“I am not pessimistic… I call on all political parties to find new solutions,” reiterated Jebali in a brief public statement after the meeting.
Prior to the prime minister’s evening address, different parties were still weighing in on Jebali’s proposal on Monday.
In a press release issued Monday, Ennahdha party’s Shura Council rejected Jebali’s plan and affirmed their committment for a political cabinet, reflecting the results of the October 23, 2011 election.
Mouldi Fehem, a representative of opposition party Al Joumhouri, told Tunisia Live that his party has always called for a national coalition party that does not exclude any political party. However, following Prime Minister Jebali’s initial proposal for a technocratic government, Al Joumhouri, among other opposition parties, welcomed the initiative.
“Our country needs us united… That’s why we called for a government of independent expertise. But it was a hard plan,” he added.
Fehem speculated that the ongoing negotiations will lead to forming a government that consists in both independent and affiliated politicians.
“It would be best if the main ministries remain neutral while all political parties are included in the rest of the government, including Nidaa Tounes and the Popular Front.”
In an interview with Tunisia Live, Jilani Hammami, a leader of the Popular Front coalition, stated that it called for a national emergency government with an urgent economic and social agenda, even before the assassination of opposition leader Chokri Belaid on February 6.
“We would not join a political coalition government at this point… We don’t approve of fighting over chairs and government positions just to stay in power,” he added.
Hammami described both Jebali’s proposal and the alternative plan of forming a political coalition government as “another failure of the ruling parties.”
Speculations over a forthcoming cabinet reshuffle have swirled for the past several weeks. On the evening of Belaid’s assassination, Jebali announced his initiative of an apolitical, technocratic government as a solution to the current political situation.