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Tunisian Islamist leader expects new government this week

Rached Ghannouchi, leader of the Islamist Ennahda movement, Tunisia's main Islamist political party, gives a speech during a public meeting
Rached Ghannouchi, leader of the Islamist Ennahda movement, Tunisia's main Islamist political party, gives a speech during a public meeting

TUNIS (Reuters) - The leader of Tunisia's main Islamist Ennahda party, Rached Ghannouchi, said on Tuesday he expected Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali to form a coalition government this week that would include politicians as well as technocrats.

"I expect that agreement will be reached and I expect Jebali will remain the prime minister of a coalition government," he told Reuters in an interview.

Following last week's assassination of an opposition politician, Jebali proposed forming a cabinet of apolitical technocrats to take Tunisia to elections, but did not consult his own Ennahda party or its secular coalition partners.

Ghannouchi said Ennahda opposed Jebali's idea and would make a counter-proposal. "There is a project for a political government that will be presented to the prime minister to form a team of politicians and technocrats," he said.

"We don't have much time before we announce this government. The time limit is this week," he said.

Ghannouchi said it was essential that Islamists and secular parties shared power now and in the future. "Any stable rule in Tunisia needs a moderate Islamist-secular coalition," he said.

The Islamist leader indicated that Ennahda was prepared to compromise over the control of portfolios such as defence, foreign affairs, justice and interior.

"We are ready to discuss all ministries, including sovereign ones, in a new coalition government," he said.

(Writing by Alistair Lyon; Editing by Alison Williams)

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