Tunisia chooses new PM to replace Islamist gov't with technocrats until elections next year

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The industry minister has been chosen as Tunisia's next prime minister, set to replace the Islamist-led government with technocrats in what's been a faltering transition to democracy.

The head of the powerful UGTT union, the main mediator, announced the choice Saturday night of 50-year-old Mehdi Jomaa. He won the vote in a contentious forum of political parties, dubbed the "national dialogue," which began meeting in October. Jomaa has three weeks to form a government.

The Islamist-led government, headed by Ali Larayedh of the Ennahda Party, had agreed to step down as the North African nation plunged into a political crisis after the assassination last July of a leftist opponent — the second such killing in six months.

The Tunisian revolution in January 2011 triggered the Arab Spring.