Tunisian union calls for the appointment of a new prime minister

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A general view of the headquarters of the General Union of Tunisian Workers (UGTT) in Tunis, Tunisia, on November 24, 2018. REUTERS / Zoubeir Souissi

TUNIS, Aug. 3 (Reuters) – Tunisia’s powerful union on Tuesday urged the president to quickly announce a new government some nine days after seizing control of the executive in a move that opponents have called a coup.

President Kais Saied has defended his actions as constitutional and said he will rule alongside a new prime minister during a time of emergency, but nine days after his intervention he has yet to name one. Read more

“We cannot wait 30 days for the announcement of a government,” said Sami Tahri, spokesperson for the UGTT union, one of Tunisia’s most powerful political forces.

“We must accelerate the formation of the government to be able to face the economic and health challenges,” he said.

Saied’s sudden intervention on July 25 appeared to enjoy broad public support, but raised fears for the future of the democratic system Tunisia adopted after its 2011 revolution that sparked the Arab Spring.

He also has yet to announce a roadmap to end an emergency period he initially set at one month but later announced could be two months.

A source close to the presidential palace in Carthage said Saied could announce the new prime minister on Tuesday. Sources told Reuters that Central Bank Governor Marouane Abassi and two former finance ministers, Hakim Hammouda and Nizar Yaich, were candidates.

Saied’s most powerful organized opponent, the moderate Islamist party Ennahda, meanwhile, has been torn by internal divisions over its response to the crisis and its longer-term strategy and leadership. Read more

Over the past decade, Tunisians had become increasingly frustrated with economic stagnation, corruption and feuds within a political class that often seemed more focused on its own narrow interests than on national issues.

The coronavirus pandemic has ravaged Tunisia over the past two months as the state’s vaccination effort progressed, at one point resulting in the worst infection and death rates in Africa. Last year, pandemic countermeasures hit the economy. Read more

On Monday, Saied replaced the finance, agriculture and telecoms ministers after saying last week that “bad economic choices” had cost the country. On Sunday, he said there were contacts with “friendly countries” for financial assistance. Read more

Reporting by Angus McDowall; Editing by Angus MacSwan

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.


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