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World News

Tunisia government to address demands: foreign minister

SHARM EL-SHEIKH, Egypt (Reuters) - Tunisia’s new unity government is transitional, will work to address economic and other issues that prompted protests and is preparing for pluralistic elections, the foreign minister said on Tuesday.

Foreign Minister Kamel Morjane, re-appointed to the cabinet after talks between the ruling party and opposition members, was speaking in Egypt as Tunisian police fired teargas to break up protests against a unity government which was announced on Monday.

The new cabinet brings opposition leaders into a coalition, but key figures from the government of ousted President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali kept their portfolios, angering many.

“The government is a unity government, a transitional government, we must not forget that its goal is clear and its duration is specified, specified legally and specified with the agreement of all parties,” Morjane said.

“It may be possible that the next government will not have any member of the former government,” he said.

The government would address problems that prompted the protests, such as corruption and economic complaints, he said at a news conference in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, where Arab leaders meet this week to discuss economic issues.

“We have all been recruited (to the cabinet) to bring the country out of this situation, in cooperation with all parties, to solve problems that led to this position,” he said.

The minister added: “The first action ...is to work for the organization of plural and democratic elections. Of course, this will take time.”

He added that the government was in contact “with all the political elements and social elements of Tunisian society” not just parties represented in the new cabinet.

Asked about the ongoing protests in Tunisia, he said: “Let me first say that in no country is there 100 percent agreement among the people about any government.”

“What I would like to confirm is that there is no person in the new government that has any goal other than getting institutions back to work and sincere preparations for elections.”

Additional reporting by Dina Zayed and Shaimaa Fayed in Cairo; Writing by Edmund Blair; Editing by Jason Neely

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