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Tunisian PM Resigns After Failing To Form New Govt.

Tunisian Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali resigned on Tuesday after failing to form a new government amid the current political turmoil sparked by the assassination of prominent Opposition leader Chokri Belaid earlier this month.

Belaid's February 6 murder triggered mass protests and resignations from the coalition government, forcing Jebali to dissolve his Cabinet and replacing it with a non-partisan Cabinet of technocrats to lead the country until "elections are held in the shortest possible time."

Jebali had also warned that he would resign if his efforts to form a Cabinet of technocrats failed. But after his proposal faced stiff opposition from within his Islamist Ennahda party, Jebali said on Monday that he would meet President Moncef Marzouki on Tuesday to apprise him of the situation.

"I vowed that if my initiative did not succeed, I would resign and I have done so," Jebali told a news conference after meeting the President, stressing that he would not lead another government without getting assurances on the timing of fresh elections and a new Constitution.

"The failure of my initiative does not mean the failure of Tunisia or the failure of the revolution," Jebali said, apparently referring to the popular unrest that ousted autocratic leader Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali two years ago.

Stating that his resignation was to "fulfill a promise made to the people," Jebali added: "Our people are disillusioned by the political class. We must restore confidence."

Incidentally, Jebali's resignation came just hours after international ratings agency Standard & Poor's downgraded Tunisia's long-term foreign and local currency sovereign credit rating, noting that the current political instability "could deteriorate further amid a worsening fiscal, external and economic outlook."

The recent developments could affect Tunisia's ongoing negotiation with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for a $1.78 billion loan aimed at stabilizing the country's economy after the 2011 revolution. According to the IMF, the negotiations are currently at an "advanced stage."

by RTT Staff Writer

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