Opinion

New Tunisia government wins confidence vote in parliament

Elyes Fakhfakh, bottom right, has brought parties from across the political spectrum into his Cabinet — and they continue to disagree on several big policy areas. (AFP)
Short Url
Updated 27 February 2020

New Tunisia government wins confidence vote in parliament

  • The government's priorities would include fighting widespread corruption and reforming public services and the state phosphate producer.

TUNIS: Tunisia’s new government won a confidence vote in parliament on Thursday, after more than four months of political wrangling since elections.
Former finance minister Elyes Fakhfakh was named prime minister-designate by Tunisia’s president Kais Saied at the end of January and tasked with forming a government within a month.
A previous cabinet team put forward by him was rejected by the Islamist-inspired party Ennahdha, which won the most seats in October’s legislative election but fell far short of a majority in the 217-seat assembly.
But Fakhfakh’s revised lineup won the vote 129 to 77 after a debate which started on Wednesday and lasted more than 14 hours.
Ennahdha had given its support to the new cabinet after being handed six portfolios.
Fakhfakh said last week that despite difficulties, the negotiations had taken place “in a completely democratic manner.”

Opinion

This section contains relevant reference points, placed in (Opinion field)


The confidence vote follows a power struggle between the president and Ennahdha, with the party previously threatening to take steps to force out Fakhfakh.
The government will be sworn in at a ceremony to be held later on Thursday at the Presidential Palace, the president’s press office told AFP.
Fakhfakh will become the eighth Prime Minister in Tunisia since the 2011 revolution ousted President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.
Tunisia, which has been managed for more than four months by the outgoing government, has been trying to revive a struggling economy but unemployment continues to affect the population, especially the young, and inflation is eroding an already low purchasing power.
The new government will be tasked with relaunching discussions with the International Monetary Fund, which in 2016 approved a four-year, $3 billion loan for Tunisia in return for major reforms, some of which are disputed.
Due to delays, the country has only received about $1.6 billion so far, while the facility ends in April and the first repayments are due in November.


Protesters pack Tel Aviv rally against coronavirus cash crisis

Updated 11 min 22 sec ago

Protesters pack Tel Aviv rally against coronavirus cash crisis

  • Event was organized by self-employed, small business and performing artists’ groups angry at coronavirus curbs which have taken away their livelihoods

TEL AVIV: Thousands of Israelis streamed into Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square to protest Saturday against the government’s handling of economic hardship caused by coronavirus curbs.
About 300 officers were deployed in the square, a traditional protest site, to ensure public order and monitor social distancing regulations, police said.
Many participants wore facemasks but most appeared to be less than the statutory two meters (yards) apart.
Some held banners reading in Hebrew: “Let us breathe” — an echo of worldwide protests sparked by the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man, during a US police arrest.
The event was organized by self-employed, small business and performing artists’ groups angry at coronavirus curbs which have taken away their livelihoods.
Student unions also took part over the large numbers of young people made jobless by closures.
Israel imposed a broad lockdown from the middle of March, allowing only staff deemed essential to go to work and banning public assembly.
Places of entertainment were closed, hitting the leisure industry hard.
Facing public and economic pressure, the government eased restrictions in late May.
But infections have mounted and rules tightened again, including the closure of event venues, clubs, bars, gyms and public pools.
While salaried workers sent on furlough received unemployment benefits, the self-employed said most had been waiting months for promised government aid.
“There is a very grave crisis of confidence between us and the government,” Shai Berman, one of the protest organizers told Israeli public radio ahead of the rally.
“We are part of a very large public which is feeling growing distress and wants to demonstrate and simply does not believe the promises,” he added.
Berman was among activists invited Friday to meet Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and finance ministry officials in a last-minute government effort to stave off the protest.
“He tried, very politely,” Berman said, adding that an aid package presented at the meeting was a start, but flawed.
Netanyahu promised swift implementation.
“We will meet our commitments including hastening the immediate payments that we want to give you,” his office quoted him as telling the activists.
On Friday, the health ministry announced the highest number of coronavirus infections over a 24-hour period, with nearly 1,500 new cases confirmed.
The country of roughly nine million has now registered more than 37,000 cases, including over 350 deaths.