Tunisia: the minister of the Interior appointed head of government

Tunisie: le ministre de l'Intérieur désigné chef du gouvernement

Tunis | tunisian minister of the Interior, Hichem Mechichi, was identified Saturday evening by the president, Kais Saied head of the future government which should form within a month his team in a political context strained.

“After an examination and reading of all the situations (in the country) I charge you to form the government,” said the tunisian president at the address of Mr Mechichi at the palace of Carthage, in a video published on the official page of the presidency of the Republic.

A lawyer by training, Hichem Mechichi, 46 years old, has not been proposed by the political parties in power.

Minister of the Interior in the outgoing government of Elyes Fakhfakh, he was the first adviser to the president Saied, in charge of legal affairs.

This former head of the cabinet of ministries of Transport, of social Affairs and Health will take a month to form his government.

It will then need to secure the confidence of Parliament by an absolute majority by September. Otherwise, the Assembly will be dissolved and new elections will take place.

Tunisia, where the last election was held in October, would then have 90 days to organize the vote early, either before the end of 2020.

In a statement issued by the presidency of the Republic, Mr Mechichi felt that his new position represents a “great responsibility and a great challenge especially in the present circumstances of our country,” promising to “work to form a government which will fulfill all the expectations of Tunisians”.

His appointment comes the day when Tunisia is celebrating the 63rd anniversary of the Republic, a day that marks the abolition of the monarchy and the proclamation of the Republic in 1957.

This day also commemorates the first anniversary of the death of Beji Caid Essebsi, the first tunisian president elected by universal suffrage in 2014, died in a few months to the end of his term at the age of 92 years.

“Block work”

Mr Mechichi will succeed Elyes Fakhfakh, who was weakened by a case of conflict of interest, resigned under pressure from the party-inspired islamist Ennahda party, which had tabled a motion of no confidence against him.

The new prime minister has the difficult task of gathering a majority in a Parliament deeply fragmented.

Elected in October, the Assembly of people’s representatives (ARP) is composed of a myriad of parties, some of whom are at loggerheads. This is notably the case of the Party destourien freedom (PDL) of the anti-islamist Abir Moussi (16 deputies out of 217), and the party’s Ennahda party, the first force in the parliament (54 members).

During the last two weeks, plenary sessions were not held due to a violent exchange between these two blocks, and a sit-in of the PDL calling for the departure of the president of the parliament Rached Ghannouchi, chief of Ennahda.

The latter is the subject of a motion of withdrawal of confidence, which will be discussed at a plenary on 30 July.

On Monday, the president Saied has warned against a state of “chaos” in the Parliament and a “blocking of the work of a constitutional institution”.

In a press release issued Friday, the tunisian League for the defence of Human rights has considered that successive governments had not managed to establish “a development policy capable of reducing unemployment, regional imbalances, inflation, fiscal and trade deficits”.

Tunisia, which has successfully undertaken drastic measures to control the outbreak of coronavirus, is hit hard by the economic and social impact of the border closure.

Thousands of jobs are on the harness so that the population is already incensed by the lack of prospects in a country where the official unemployment rate exceeds 30% in some areas and among young people.

In recent weeks, the south of the country has experienced protests against unemployment and political marginalization.

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