14 December 2013 9:29 pm | | 2


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Mehdi Jomaa. Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

Mehdi Jomaa. Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

Political leaders today chose Mehdi Jomaa to become Tunisia’s caretaker prime minister, completing a drawn-out selection negotiation.

Jomaa, 52, currently serves as minister of industry in Prime Minister Ali Laarayedh’s cabinet.

The decision came nearly nine hours after a noon deadline for parties to agree on who should replace current Laarayedh. The move is meant to guide the country out of a now four-month long political deadlock.

Houcine Abbassi, head of the UGTT labor union, announced the outcome in a press conference tonight.

Out of 18 parties who voted tonight, 11 cast their ballot for Jomaa. Twenty-one parties had been included in the discussions, but two were absent and the al-Joumhouri party withdrew this evening. Other smaller parties had earlier criticized the process because they were not included in the discussions.

Members of the Popular Front opposition coalition expressed disappointment that the chosen nominee is a member of the current government.

Jomaa has a business background, working in the management of Hutchinson Aerospace from 1988 until joining the cabinet this year.

Abbassi said that parties would meet next Wednesday to begin the next steps of dialogue, which aim to finalize the constitution and arrange for new elections.

Jomaa will be tasked with choosing a new interim government after he is officially appointed prime minister.

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