Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 February 2020

Tunisian parties agree on prime ministerial candidate

If the Cabinet fails to be accepted for a second time, Tunisia will be forced to call a second election

Hakim Ben Hammouda, the former minister of economy, has been nominated by seven parties to be Tunisia's next Prime Minister. AFP
Hakim Ben Hammouda, the former minister of economy, has been nominated by seven parties to be Tunisia's next Prime Minister. AFP

Tunisia's main political parties all nominated Hakim Ben Hammouda, the former minister of economy, to be prime minister after three months of political turmoil that has left the country unable to form a government.

Earlier this month, politicians rejected the Cabinet proposed by designated prime minister Habib Jemli after months of negotiations between political parties. President Kais Saied now has to ask another political figure to form a coalition government.

If the Cabinet fails to be accepted for a second time, Tunisia will be forced to call a second election.

Mr Hammouda was proposed for the role by the seven major parties and parliamentary blocs, giving him a stronger chance than Mr Jemli, an independent who was nominated by the Ennahda party after it came out top in legislative polls in October but failed to win enough seats to form a majority.

The rejection of Mr Jemli's Cabinet was a big setback for Ennahda, which has been directly or indirectly in power for much of the past nine years and risks delaying reforms needed to revive the stuttering economy. He was criticised for some of his choices, with some parties saying they are biased or corrupt.

The country’s citizens have endured grinding economic hardship in the aftermath of the 2011 Arab uprisings.

The constitution stipulates that if the prime minister-designate fails to receive parliamentary assent for his government, the president will launch talks with political parties and parliamentary blocs to mandate someone else to form an administration.

Mr Saied, who was also elected in October, has no natural allies in the chamber and there is little sign of possible alliances to form a new government coalition.

He is expected to announce the most qualified figure by Monday.

Updated: January 19, 2020 12:02 PM

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