Tunisian president's party quits Islamist-led government

TUNIS Sun Feb 10, 2013 6:22pm IST

Tunisia's President Moncef Marzouki listens his national anthem at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, February 6, 2013. REUTERS/Jean-Marc Loos

Tunisia's President Moncef Marzouki listens his national anthem at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, February 6, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Jean-Marc Loos

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TUNIS (Reuters) - The secular party of Tunisian President Moncef Marzouki withdrew its three ministers from the Islamist-led government on Sunday, saying its demands for cabinet changes had not been met.

The decision by Marzouki's Congress for the Republic Party deals a further blow to Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali's government, already reeling from last week's assassination of secular opposition leader Chokri Belaid.

"We have been saying for a week that if the foreign and justice ministers were not changed, we would withdraw from the government," party official Samir Ben Amor told Reuters.

"This decision has nothing to do with the prime minister's decision to form a government of technocrats," Ben Amor said, referring to Jebali's declared intention to name a non-partisan cabinet to run day-to-day affairs until elections can be held.

Belaid's killing on Wednesday - Tunisia's first such political assassination in decades - has thrown the government and the country into turmoil, widening rifts between the dominant Islamist Ennahda party and its secular-minded foes.

Senior politicians in Ennahda, as well as in its two non-Islamist coalition partners, had criticised Jebali for proposing a technocratic government, saying he had not consulted them.

(Reporting by Tarek Amara; Writing by Alistair Lyon; Editing by Andrew Heavens)

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