Tunisia PM wants new cabinet during crisis

AAP

Tunisia's Islamist prime minister says he will resign if his proposal to appoint a non-political cabinet by mid-week is rejected.

Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali, who made the pledge on Saturday, called for the cabinet change after Tunisia was thrown into a crisis by the assassination of a prominent opposition politician.

Jebali's moderate Islamist Ennahda Party has already rejected his proposal. But he told the France-24 TV channel government ministers must be replaced by ones without a political affiliation, notably technocrats.

"I feel obliged to save my country," he said, adding that Tunisia risks a "swing into chaos".

If the new team is accepted, "I will continue to assume my role", Jebali said. If not, he will withdraw from the government.

As Jabali spoke, several thousand pro-government protesters rallied on the main avenue of the capital.

But outside Tunis, groups of youths threw stones at offices of the governing party and attacked police stations in several cities in scattered unrest.

The interior ministry said 230 people, aged 16 to 25, had been arrested since Friday, the day Chokri Belaid was buried.

The slaying of the respected opposition figure unleashed anger, and his funeral drew thousands of mourners chanting anti-government slogans in Tunis.

Saturday was the third straight day of unrest in the North African country, which overthrew its long-ruling president, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, in January 2011, kicking off the Arab Spring revolutions.

With tension mounting, Jebali announced he would appoint a new cabinet by mid-week, saying it would be small and made up of technocrats.

More from Business Spectator