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Tunisian party decides to stay in government for now

Feb. 11, 2013 3:33 P.M. (Updated: Feb. 15, 2013 8:18 P.M.)
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.
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