The Tunisian prime minister stepped down Tuesday after failing to form a new government, a move he had hoped would defuse tensions in the divided country.
Hamadi Jebali had tried to persuade his ruling Nahda party, a moderate Islamist faction, to dissolve its Cabinet and create a new government of technocrats. The revamped government was meant to dial down tensions after the assassination of opposition leader Chokri Belaid, which infuriated secular liberals and propelled thousands of protesters into the streets early this month.
Nahda rejected the plan, however, leaving the government at an impasse. Jebali had insisted that a nonpartisan government was needed to stop Tunisia from sliding into chaos.
“I promised if my initiative did not succeed I would resign as head of the government, and this is what I am doing following my meeting with the president,” Jebali said Tuesday at the presidential palace, according to the Associated Press. “Today there is a great disappointment among the people, and we must regain their trust, and this resignation is a first step.”