Ali Larayedh resigns as Tunisia's PM to make way for caretaker government



Tunisia's Islamist prime minister Ali Larayedh has resigned to make way for a non-partisan caretaker government as part of a deal with his opponents to complete a transition to democracy.Three years after the uprising against autocrat Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali, Tunisia is in the final stages of establishing a full democracy before elections that would be a rare bright spot in the region.
Illustrating the country's continued fragility, troops in the city of Tataouine fired into the air and police used tear gas earlier on Thursday amid protests over economic conditions, the state news agency said.
Larayedh's moderate Islamist party Ennahda agreed late last year to the deal to hand over power to a non-partisan cabinet led by Mehdi Jomaa, a technocrat who will govern until the elections.
"I have just handed my resignation to the president," Larayedh said. "The president will appoint the new prime minister Mehdi Jomaa shortly, and he will present his new cabinet in the next few days."
One of the most secular countries in the Arab world, Tunisia has struggled with divisions over the role of Islam and the rise of Islamist militants since the uprising in 2011 that inspired other revolts in the region.
Tunisia's transition has been mostly peaceful since 2011. But the killings of two secular opposition leaders by gunmen last year galvanised Ennahda's secular foes who took to the streets to demand its members resign from power, accusing them of being too lax with hardliners.
After weeks of wrangling, Ennahda reached a compromise with main opposition Nidaa Tounes to resign once parties had finished writing the new constitution, set a date for elections and appointed an electoral council to oversee the vote.
Much of that agreement has been done: the national assembly is voting on the last clauses of the new charter this week and on Wednesday night the assembly appointed a nine-member electoral commission.
But Tunisia's new government will have to tackle economic reforms to cut back its deficit while managing simmering popular discontent over the high living costs and lack of economic opportunities since the revolution.
After two days of protests in several cities over an increase on vehicle taxes, Larayedh said earlier on Thursday the government would suspend the tax reform.
The state news agency said troops opened fire into the air and police used tear gas to repel hundreds of protesters in Tataouine, where they attacked two police stations and an Ennahda party office.
No injuries were reported and local residents said the army had brought the situation under control later the same day.



I was there just this past week when these protest happened. I watched the news and how people where upset with these taxes. They seemed very angry and frustrated. Thanks for the info and the link.