Tunisia's prime minister said Saturday that key ministries held by fellow Islamists would be re-assigned to independents in a new government of non-partisan technocrats, otherwise the country would "slide into chaos."
"All the ministries will be independent, including the interior, justice and foreign affairs ministries," Hamadi Jebali told France 24, when asked by the satellite news channel about the plan which his Ennahda party opposes.
"I had to take the decision without consulting the political parties, the day of the assassination (of Chokri Belaid), fearing that the country would slide into chaos," he said.
"It was not Jebali's initiative. It was an initiative to save the country," the prime minister added.
"If the initiative fails, what would you suggest to the Tunisian people, what alternative? The law of the jungle?" Jebali asked, addressing the country's political class.
He repeated that he was ready to resign if he did not receive broad political support for his new cabinet.
The prime minister, who is also Ennahda's number two, is in open conflict with his party over the proposed formation of a new government, which he first announced on Wednesday in the wake of public outrage over Belaid's murder.
Thousands of Ennahda supporters rallied in the capital on Saturday to denounce the plan, which has been largely welcomed by the party's allies in the existing coalition government, as well as opposition parties and civil society groups.