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Tunisian leader fights party, may resign

TUNIS, Tunisia — Tunisia’s prime minister will continue to oppose his own political party and seek to form a government of technocrats by Saturday to solve the nation’s crisis or resign, he said Thursday.

Hamadi Jebali said he will hold talks with representatives of all political parties Friday to determine whether there is sufficient support for his solution to end the crisis exacerbated by a political assassination last week. He will announce the results of the meeting the following day.

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Jebali’s initiative, while supported by the opposition, puts him on a collision course with the moderate Islamist Ennahda Party, which dominates the government and insists on sticking with a Cabinet of political figures.

The two competing visions for how to resolve the country’s political deadlock are even more striking because Jebali is the secretary general of Ennahda, revealing cleavages within the party itself.

In the midst of an ongoing tussle between the governing coalition and the opposition, leftist politician Chokri Belaid was shot four times in his car at his home Feb. 6, setting off antigovernment riots. Hundreds of thousands showed up at his funeral, and the Ennahda-led administration was widely blamed for creating the violent environment that resulted in his death.

In response, Jebali called for a government of technocrats to end the transitional period by speeding up the writing of the new constitution and holding long-awaited new elections. His initiative has been warmly welcomed by civil society and the opposition.

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