Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 5 April 2020

Tunisian President chooses former finance minister as PM

Elyes Fakhfakh now has one month to put together coalition government acceptable to Parliament

Tunisian President Kais Saied on Monday designated Elyes Fakhfakh as Prime Minister, after the fractured parliament this month rejected a government proposed by an earlier nominee to the post.EPA
Tunisian President Kais Saied on Monday designated Elyes Fakhfakh as Prime Minister, after the fractured parliament this month rejected a government proposed by an earlier nominee to the post.EPA

Tunisian President Kais Saied on Monday designated Elyes Fakhfakh as Prime Minister, after the fractured Parliament this month rejected a government proposed by an earlier nominee.

Mr Fakhfakh, a former finance minister, now has a month to form a coalition capable of winning a confidence vote in Parliament by a simple majority, or there will be another election with urgent economic decisions left hanging.

The choice of Mr Fakhfakh, 48, underscores the economic priorities after a decade of low growth, high public debt and declining services since the 2011 revolution that introduced democracy.

The former employee of the French energy company Total served as finance minister in 2012 and also worked as tourism minister.

The incumbent government of Youssef Chahed has since 2016 tried to rein in spending while addressing the effects of two major militant attacks in 2015, which devastated Tunisia’s crucial tourism industry.

But it has been acting as a caretaker government since the October 6 parliamentary election in which the largest party, the moderate Ennahda, took only a quarter of the seats.

It nominated Habib Jemli as prime minister in November, but his proposed government failed to win parliamentary backing and lost a confidence vote on January 10.

That meant Mr Saied, who was also elected in October, had the right to name his own choice of prime minister to try to form a government.

Tunisia’s constitution splits power between the head of state and the government, leading to several periods in recent years of political struggles between them.

Updated: January 21, 2020 02:38 AM

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