Tunisia's prime minister resigns amid political crisis

Tunisian Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali, holds the hand on the Koran as he takes the oath of office during a swearing-in ceremony at the presidential palace in Carthage near Tunis, Tunisia, Saturday, Dec. 24, 2011.
AP Photo/Hassene Dridi

TUNIS, TunisiaTUNIS, Tunisia - Tunisia's prime minister announced Tuesday he is resigning following the rejection of his effort to form an apolitical government to see the country out of its political crisis.

After the assassination of a leftist politician Feb. 6 deadlocked the government and set off riots across the country, Hamadi Jebali offered to dissolve the fractious governing coalition and put together a new government of technocrats.

His own party, the moderate Islamist Ennahda, rejected his initiative insisting that the country still needed a government of politicians.

"I promised if my initiative did not succeed I would resign as head of the government and this is what I am doing following my meeting with the president," he said at the presidential palace. "Today there is a great disappointment among the people and we must regain their trust and this resignation is a first step."

Ennahda's leader, Rachid Ghannouchi had put forward his own proposal Monday for a mixed government of politicians and technocrats and had said there was a consensus among political parties for Jebali to remain prime minister.

Jebali did not rule out accepting if he was charged by the president once more to form a new government, but he said any new cabinet he would lead must be free from partisan haggling, inclusive and charged primarily with holding new elections.

Tunisians overthrew their dictator in January 2011 and in the ensuing two years the country has been dogged by a poor economy and unrest as they undergo a transition to a democracy.