Tunisian President Kais Saied on Thursday appointed Ridha Gharsallaoui, a former national security adviser to the presidency, as the country’s interim Interior Minister, reported France 24.
The announcement was published on the Tunisian Presidency’s official website. Gharsallaoui will head the Interior Ministry until a new government is formed. He was sworn into his interim role by the Tunisian president, as required by Article 89 of the Constitution.
The development comes after Saied invoked a national emergency on Sunday to seize control of the government following mass protests against the ruling party. Thousands of Tunisians came out on the streets in several cities protesting against the Ennahdha party, criticizing the government’s failure in handling the coronavirus outbreak and the economic and social turmoil. Tunisia has recently been overwhelmed by COVID-19 cases, including more than 18,000 deaths.
President Saied sacked Hichem Mechichi from the post of prime minister over his handling of the pandemic and suspended all activities of the parliament promising a major overhaul.
“I tell you and the whole world that I am keen to implement the constitutional text and keen more than them on rights and freedoms,” the Tunisian president said on Thursday. “No one has been arrested. No one has been deprived of his rights, but the law is fully applied.”
On Wednesday, President Saied launched a crackdown on corruption as he accused 460 businessmen of embezzlement. He accused the businessmen of owing 13.5 billion dinars ($4.9 billion) to the state, citing the findings of a commission of inquiry into graft under former dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.
“This money must be returned to the Tunisian people,” he said, adding that he intends to offer the businessmen “judicial arbitration”.
The Tunisian president is yet to appoint a new prime minister or give any further details on how he means to handle the 30-day period during which he said parliament would be frozen.