WASHINGTON Feb 19 Negotiations between Tunisia
and the International Monetary Fund on a $1.78 billion loan are
continuing at a technical level, an IMF spokeswoman said after
political turmoil prompted Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali to
"Negotiations for a new precautionary SBA are still ongoing
at a technical level," Wafa Amr told Reuters in an email on
"Once a new government is named, we will enquire about its
intentions/mandate. Once the political situation is clarified,
we'll assess how best to help Tunisia."
The IMF said early this month that talks on Tunisia
obtaining a $1.78 billion SBA, a stand-by arrangement that would
be used as insurance to back the country's development after its
2011 revolution, were at "an advanced stage".
But economic policy-making in Tunisia is now threatened by a
political crisis following the assassination of leading secular
opposition politician Chokri Belaid outside his home in Tunis on
Jebali initially responded to the crisis by proposing to
create a non-partisan cabinet of technocrats that would lead the
country into early elections. He resigned on Tuesday after his
own Islamist Ennahda party opposed the idea, fearing it would be
sidelined from power; the shape of Tunisia's new government is
not yet known.