New ministers appointed by Tunisian PM in sweeping cabinet reshuffle
In a cabinet reshuffle on Saturday, Tunisian Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi named 12 new ministers whom he hopes would inject new blood into his government amid growing political tensions and an ongoing economic crisis.
Mechichi named Walid Dhabi as the new Interior Minister after sacking Taoufik Charfeddine, who is close to President Kais Saied, this month, a move that highlights tensions between the two most powerful leaders of the world.
Saied and Mechichi are at odds over their respective forces and political alliances, putting at risk the unity needed to force through much-needed reforms.
Following criticism over the government’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, Hedi Khairi was appointed health minister, with the official date for the launch of vaccinations in Tunisia still uncertain.
The ranks of coalition partners supporting the government have also been rattled by disagreements, with the Karama party refusing to vote on the reorganization and threatening to leave the coalition.
Youssef Zouaghi was appointed by Mechichi as Minister of Justice, Sofien Ben Touns as Minister of Energy, and Oussama Kheriji as Minister of Agriculture.
“The next stage is full of challenges, including the necessary reforms for the economy, which require increased efficiency and harmony”, Mechichi said.
While, after its 2011 uprising, Tunisia became a democracy, its economy has collapsed, the country is on the verge of bankruptcy and political leaders seem paralysed.
According to Reuters, a bitterly divided parliament was unable to establish a stable government in the 2019 election, with parties bickering over cabinet positions and putting off major decisions.