Tunisian party decides to stay in government for now
TUNIS (Reuters) - A party led by interim President Moncef Marzouki said on Monday it had "frozen" its withdrawal from Tunisia's coalition government while talks continue on a political crisis sharpened by the killing of an opposition politician.
Mohamed Abbou, secretary-general of the secular Congress for the Republic (CPR), told a news conference that the party, which had decided at the weekend to pull out of the government, would stay on for a week.
"The party has decided to freeze the resignations of its ministers for a week for more discussions on a coalition government," he said.
The CPR is one of two junior non-Islamist partners in a coalition dominated by the Islamist Ennahda party.
Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali said after Wednesday's assassination of leftist politician Chokri Belaid that he would form a non-partisan government of technocrats to run the country until elections can be held later in the year.
Senior politicians in Ennahda and its coalition partners, had criticized Jebali for failing to consult them first.
Belaid's killing - 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.
The slain politician's widow, Besma Belaid, called on Monday for Jebali and his cabinet to step down.
"My only demand is the resignation of the government which failed to guarantee the security of Chokri Belaid," she told Reuters outside the National Constituent Assembly, where she and several hundred supporters had gathered.
"They must go, all of them, including the prime minister," she said. "The game is over. If they stay, one fears to see other assassinations in this climate of fear and violence."
(Reporting by Tarek Amara; Writing by Alistair Lyon)
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