Tunisia: elections soon, govt reshuffle and new alliances

Election date not yet set

23 January, 16:08

(ANSAmed) - TUNIS, JANUARY 23 - Tunisia is looking at a new government reshuffle after a failed attempt to broaden and thus bolster the government majority by getting some of the ''minor'' parties involved(the last rejection was by the WAFA movement), while a coalition pact agreement between the three largest opposition parties will soon be made official. Even though the date has not yet been set for its first democratic ''general'' elections and the country is waiting for the Constituent Assembly to finish its work, Tunisia is already moving towards elections with a campaign that may prove to be violent, and not only in dialectical terms. Too much tension has been building up both inside and outside of the majority to hope for an Anglo-Saxon style election campaign. A great deal of shady areas are also clouding the government's actions and those of other State powers, who do not seem to be sufficiently determined to fight the violence breaking out with alarming regularity - violence which does not seem justified simply by the anger of the young and unemployed. Recent events making headlines - the latest of which last night in Kairoun - tell of extremely violent clashes between unemployed youths and the police, with the former enjoying the support (it is not clear to what extent asked for or approved of) of common criminals, who take advantage of the situation to steal, loot and destroy. And this is not even mentioning the intolerance of fundamentalists and the League for the Protection of the Revolution, who seem to be defending interests that seem to have little or nothing in common with the aims of the ''uprising''. This week may also prove crucial for the government. Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali is reportedly on the verge of announcing the members of the next government, which has been spoken of for quite some time and now seems to be the offing. Jebali has understood that he should be careful about pushing too hard, and that the infighting regularly sparked between Ennahdha and the other parties of the troika (Ettakatol and CPR) are wearing the majority down and not simply creating a bit of friction between the allies involved. He has put forward his proposal, asking his allies to fill the ministry positions that are their due. But things seem to be swerving off-course, given that especially Ettakatol is showing impatience with the direction chosen by Ennahdha - which has no intention of giving up key ministries and which is pushing for the creation of a position (general coordinator of the government) who would have an enormous amount of power. Given the problems within the majority, the opposition seems to have set aside the points it does not agree with, and the three largest parties - Al Jomhouri (the Republican Party), Al Massar and Nidaa Tounes - have formed a coalition. The coalition's contents and plans have not yet been officially announced and are eagerly awaited, and it will likely prove interesting to see how the different ideological backgrounds of the parties will be harmonized into a shared programme. (ANSAmed).

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