Tunisia: Ennahda and opposition agree on power transfer

Anti-government protest in Tunis, 26 September The mainly secular Tunisian opposition accuses Ennahda of seeking to impose Islamic values

Tunisia's governing Islamist Ennahda party and the opposition have agreed on the appointment of a caretaker government in the coming weeks.

Under the deal signed after talks in Tunis, a cabinet of independent figures will be in power until fresh elections.

Last month Ennahda agreed in principle to relinquish power, in an effort to end Tunisia's political deadlock.

The crisis was triggered by the assassinations of two opposition leaders earlier this year.

It has threatened to disrupt a democratic transition that began after Tunisians threw out their decades-old authoritarian government at the beginning of the 2011 uprisings, widely referred to as the Arab Spring.

Talks between Ennahda and the National Salvation Front-led opposition are being mediated by the UGTT labour union.

Under the agreement signed on Saturday, the two sides are to hold further negotiations on the formation of the new technocratic cabinet within three or four weeks.

The caretaker government is to supervise new elections.

Correspondents say the agreement represents a setback for the moderate Islamist Ennahda Party, which has run the country since winning elections in October 2011.

The opposition has accused Ennahda of pushing an Islamist agenda on a traditionally secular nation.

The rivalry intensified after the murders of prominent left-wing figure Chokri Belaid in February and opposition politician Mohammed Brahmi in July.

Ennahda condemned the killings but the opposition accused it of failing to rein in radical Islamists.

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