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)
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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.”

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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.


Iran reports most new cases in nearly two months

Updated 29 May 2020

Iran reports most new cases in nearly two months

  • The government has largely lifted the coronavirus closures
  • New infections have been on a rising trajectory ever since hitting a near two-month low on May 2

TEHRAN: Iran on Friday announced its highest number of new coronavirus infections in nearly two months and warned the Middle East’s deadliest outbreak was worsening in some regions.
The government has largely lifted the closures it imposed after Iran’s first cases were confirmed in February but has been watching out for any resurgence in the number of infections.
Health ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour said 2,819 new cases were confirmed across the country in the past 24 hours, bringing the overall total to 146,668.
That figure is the highest Iran has announced for a single day since April 2.
New infections have been on a rising trajectory ever since hitting a near two-month low on May 2.
Jahanpour said that the virus had claimed another 50 lives over the same period, raising the overall toll to 7,677.
So far the government has reimposed a lockdown on just one province, Khuzestan on the border with Iraq in the southwest.
The province remains “red” — the highest level on Iran’s color-coded risk scale.
“The provinces of Khorasan Razavi, east and west Azerbaijan, Lorestan, Kurdistan, Kermanshah, Hormozgan and Mazandaran are also in a critical situation,” Jahanpour said.