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Tunisia's interim prime minister to step down

By Ammar Ben Aziz and Marie-Louise Gumuchian, CNN
January 9, 2014 -- Updated 1531 GMT (2331 HKT)
Tunisian Prime Minister Ali Laarayedh speaks on October 5.
Tunisian Prime Minister Ali Laarayedh speaks on October 5.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Ali Laarayedh's resignation is part of a deal struck between the government and opposition
  • New PM expected to announce a caretaker government by the end of the week
  • The assassination last year of two opposition politicians triggered growing unrest
  • Tunisia is seen as the birthplace of the Arab Spring movement

(CNN) -- Tunisia's interim Prime Minister Ali Laarayedh has confirmed that he will submit his resignation Thursday, the state news agency reported, as part of a deal aimed at putting the North African country's transition to democracy back on track.

His successor, Industry Minister Mehdi Jomaa, is expected to announce a new caretaker government before the end of the week.

Laarayedh will hand his resignation to President Moncef Marzouki Thursday afternoon, the state-run TAP news agency said.

Tunisia -- the cradle of the 2011 Arab Spring uprisings that toppled autocratic leaders in one of the most conservative corners of the world -- has been in crisis since the killings of two secular opposition leaders by gunmen last year.

Thursday's move is in line with an agreement between the government and opposition last year to end a political deadlock.

That deal foresaw the ruling Islamist Ennahda party handing over power once parties had finished writing a new constitution and appointed an electoral commission to oversee new elections.

Tunisia's national assembly has been voting on the last clauses of the new charter this week and on Wednesday appointed the electoral committee.

The once-banned moderate Islamist Ennahda party won elections in October 2012 -- the first after the January 2011 ouster of former autocratic leader Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali -- and formed an Islamist-led government.

But political turmoil has beset the North African country, which relies heavily on foreign tourists for revenue, and the presidency has declared a state of emergency.

Editors' Note: This article has been edited to remove plagiarized content after CNN discovered multiple instances of plagiarism by Marie-Louise Gumuchian, a former CNN news editor.

CNN's Laura Smith-Spark and Saad Abedine contributed to this report

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