Tunisia Government Dismisses Foreign, Defence Ministers Just Weeks After Election

The newly elected Tunisian President Kais Saied on Tuesday gave his approval to the replacement of the foreign and defence ministers after consultation with Prime Minister Youssef Chahed reported Reuters.

According to Tuesday’s presidency statement, Karim Jamoussi, the justice minister, has replaced Jhinaoui as acting foreign minister, while Sabri Bachtobji has replaced Zbidi as acting defence minister. Notably, under Tunisia’s constitution, the president must approve the appointment or dismissal of government ministers. The two ministers were seen as being close to former President Beji Caid Essebsi, who died in June. Economic Diplomacy Minister Hatem Ferjani was also fired.

Saied won the presidential election earlier this month gaining a massive 72.7% of the votes. He got more than 50 percent of the votes than his competitor Nabil Karoui. The poll followed the death of Beji Caid Essebsi, Tunisia’s first president freely elected by universal suffrage, in July.

Saied was invested as head of state last week, a role that in Tunisia’s political system gives him direct control over foreign and defence policy.

Although the president is the most senior directly elected official, most power is held by a governing coalition that requires a parliamentary majority.

The moderate Islamist Ennahdha won more seats in the October parliamentary election as compared to other parties. So, Ennahdha is preparing to have formal negotiations with other parties to appoint a prime minister and a new government.

But the number of seats Ennahdha won is only 52 of the 217 seats, so, any new governing coalition will require complex and potentially lengthy negotiations. If Ennahdha’s candidate for prime minister is not able to form a government within two months, Saied can name another candidate who would also have two months to try to build a coalition before new elections would be required.

Caroline Finnegan

A professionnal journalist for the past ten years, I cover global news and economic affairs for The Chief Observer.

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