Crisis-hit Tunisia president holds talks over new premier

Updated 21 February 2013
0

Crisis-hit Tunisia president holds talks over new premier

TUNIS: President Moncef Marzouki held urgent talks yesterday with political leaders in a bid to steer Tunisia out of a weeks-long crisis worsen by the resignation of Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali.
Marzouki met with the leader of the ruling Ennahda party, Rached Ghannouchi, and later with Maya Jribi of the opposition Republican party, his office said.
Tunisia was plunged into its worst political crisis since the 2011 Arab Spring revolt that ousted President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali when leftist politician Chokri Belaid was shot dead outside his home in Tunis on Feb. 6.
Though no one claimed responsibility, Belaid’s family accused Ennahda of being behind the killing, which the party vehemently denied.
Belaid’s murder also sparked deadly street protests as well as strikes, which Jebali attempted to defuse by announcing plans for a non-partisan Cabinet of technocrats to lead Tunisia into early elections.
The proposal quickly foundered and Jebali received a final rebuff by his own Ennahda party on Monday, prompting him the following day to carry out his threat to resign if he failed to win sufficient support.
Late on Tuesday he announced the resignation, saying he had failed in a last-ditch effort to push for “another solution” to the long-running crisis in a meeting with Marzouki.
Ghannouchi, whose Ennahda party dominates the national assembly, will be asked by Marzouki to nominate a new prime minister. Names being mentioned are those of Health Minister Abdelatif Mekki and Justice Minister Noureddine Bhiri.
Jribi’s opposition Republican party, meanwhile, has in recent days made it clear it is ready to support a Cabinet comprising a mix of politicians and technocrats.
Yesterday, Ahmed Nejib Chebbi, a leader from the Republican party, expressed support for Jebali.
“We support him because he has gained credibility,” he said.
Samir Bettaieb, leader of Al-Massar party, said he had “confidence in Hamadi Jebali due to the role he played after Chokri Belaid’s assassination.”
Meanwhile, German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle expressed his “respect” to Jebali in a statement, as he called “on all political forces to come together in a spirit of dialogue and heal the rifts that are currently dividing” Tunisia.
A section of the Tunisia media showered praise on Jebali.
The 63-year-old Jebali had said he was convinced a non-political team was “the best way to save the country from wandering off track.”
Analysts said it is possible Marzouki will ask Jebali to try again to form a government.
But Jebali said he would not sign on again with “any initiative that does not fix a date for new elections.”
There is also a deadlock over the drafting of a constitution, with parliament divided over the nature of Tunisia’s future political system 15 months after it was elected.
Jebali’s plans had been bitterly opposed by Ennahda members, represented by Ghannouchi, who refused to give up key portfolios and insist on Ennahda’s electoral legitimacy.
The Islamic party controls the interior, foreign and justice ministries and dominate the national assembly.
The political deadlock has left the country paralyzed.


Iran threatens to ‘vigorously’ resume enrichment if US quits nuclear deal

Updated 22 April 2018
0

Iran threatens to ‘vigorously’ resume enrichment if US quits nuclear deal

  • US President Donald Trump has set a May 12 deadline for the Europeans to “fix” the 2015 agreement that provides for curbs to Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for relief from financial sanctions
  • Zarif told reporters in New York that Iran is not seeking to acquire a nuclear bomb, but that Tehran’s “probable” response to a US withdrawal would be to restart production of enriched uranium

NEW YORK: Iran is ready to “vigorously” resume nuclear enrichment if the United States ditches the 2015 nuclear deal, and further “drastic measures” are being considered in response to a US exit, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif warned Saturday.
Zarif told reporters in New York that Iran is not seeking to acquire a nuclear bomb, but that Tehran’s “probable” response to a US withdrawal would be to restart production of enriched uranium — a key bomb-making ingredient.
“America never should have feared Iran producing a nuclear bomb, but we will pursue vigorously our nuclear enrichment,” added the foreign minister, who is in the United States to attend a UN meeting on sustaining peace.
US President Donald Trump has set a May 12 deadline for the Europeans to “fix” the 2015 agreement that provides for curbs to Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for relief from financial sanctions.
Zarif’s comments marked a further escalation of rhetoric following a warning earlier this month from Iranian President Hassan Rouhani that Washington would “regret” withdrawing from the nuclear deal, and that Iran would respond within a week if it did.
The fate of the Iran deal will be a key issue during French President Emmanuel Macron’s state visit to Washington beginning Monday, followed by talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Washington on Friday.
Zarif said the European leaders must press Trump to stick to the deal if the United States “intends to maintain any credibility in the international community” and to abide by it, “rather than demand more.”
The foreign minister warned against offering any concessions to Trump.
“To try to appease the president, I think, would be an exercise in futility,” he said.
European leaders are hoping to persuade Trump to save the deal if they, in turn, agree to press Iran to enter into agreement on missile tests and moderating its regional influence in Yemen, Syria and Lebanon.
If the United States buries the deal, Iran is unlikely to stick to the agreement alongside the other signatories — Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia --- said the foreign minister.
“That’s highly unlikely,” he said. “It is important for Iran to receive the benefits of the agreement and there is no way that Iran would do a one-sided implementation of the agreement.”
Zarif, who will attend a UN meeting on sustaining peace this week, warned of “drastic measures” under discussion in Iran.
He declined to be more specific, pointing to “what certain members of our parliament are saying about Iran’s options.”