Tunisia’s Ennahdha party to review stance on government

Tunisia's Prime Minister Elyes Fakhfakh speaks during a handover ceremony in Tunis, Tunisia February 28, 2020. (Reuters)
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Updated 05 July 2020

Tunisia’s Ennahdha party to review stance on government

  • Fakhfakh has rejected accusations of corruption but is under pressure from the opposition to resign

TUNIS: The moderate Islamist party Ennahda will review its stance on Tunisia’s coalition government over an alleged conflict of interests involving Prime Minister Elyes Fakhfakh, the party said on Sunday.
Ennahda gave no details of what action it would consider taking, but sources close to the party said the withdrawal of its seven ministers from the government was among the possible options.
Fakhfakh has rejected accusations of corruption but is under pressure from the opposition to resign after an independent member of parliament published documents last month indicating that companies the prime minister owns shares in had won deals worth 44 million dinars ($15 million) from the state.
Fakhfakh has told parliament he is ready to resign if any violation is proved, but said he had sold his shares in the companies.
“The suspicion of a conflict of interest by the prime minister ... has harmed the image of the governing coalition, and requires a reevaluation of the (party’s) position about the government,” Ennahda said in a statement.
Ennahda’s comments will increase pressure on the fragile government formed in February following an election last September that produced a fractured parliament.
A judge has opened an investigation into the allegations against Fakhfakh, and the anti-corruption minister has assigned a public watchdog to look into the issue and report back within three weeks.
The state anti-corruption commission has said Fakhfakh did not inform it that companies where he has shares had commercial deals with the state. Its head, Chawki Tbib, told parliament the firms’ contracts with the state should be canceled.
Tunisia is trying to put state finances on a sounder footing after years of deficit spending and mounting public debt — issues complicated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Brian Hook: Arms embargo to be extended one way or another

Updated 19 min 37 sec ago

Brian Hook: Arms embargo to be extended one way or another

  • The special representative for Iran asked members to respect the wishes of Middle East nations that “live in Iran’s dark shadow” and vote for the extension.

NEW YORK: The US has introduced a draft UN Security Council resolution to extend the Iran arms embargo on Iran which expires in October.

In a telephonic press briefing, Brian Hook, the special representative for Iran, said the resolution was “a clean rollover of the existing arms embargo” which was put in place in 2007.

“Letting the arms embargo expire was a big deficiency of the Iran nuclear deal. Its expiration should never have been based on an artificial timeline of five years. It was an irresponsible concession,” he said.

Hook called the new proposal “a compromise text” with the US adding provisions that had been supported by all permanent members of the council.

US Ambassador to the UN Kelly Craft called on all members to “wake up to the real world implications of allowing the arms embargo to lapse. The UNSC’s purpose is to promote global peace and security. Failure to extend the arms embargo would make a mockery of that responsibility.”

Hook asked members to respect the wishes of Middle East nations that “live in Iran’s dark shadow” and vote for the extension.

The diplomat read a quote from a letter by the six members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), who came together to ask the council to extend the arms embargo.

“(Iran) has continued to proliferate weapons across the region as an integral part of its expansionist regional policy and longstanding interference in the internal affairs of Arab states, including GCC member states, in clear violation of the UN Charter. We have stressed that Iran has been a state sponsor of terrorism in our region and has actively incubated, trained, equipped, and directed violent armed terrorists throughout the region.”

Hook urged council members to respect the wishes of those closest to the conflict and vote for the extension:

“Abstaining may carry a certain appeal for those who want to have it both ways, to express concern without addressing the concern. But abstentions will not be forgotten by nations in the region who are counting on council members to vote yes.”

Hook resigned this week. Asked by Arab News what his successor, Elliott Abrams, would bring to the table, Hook said: “People are getting an upgrade. He has been working on the Middle East’s issues for decades. He will do a great job on this file.”

Abrams’s nomination had immediately triggered speculations that a “snapback activation” would follow.

Critics argue that since the US pulled out of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on Iran, it is legally unable to trigger the snapback move, which faces opposition from Russia and China.

In answer to the claim, the US has circulated a legal memo explaining its rights under resolution 2231 to initiate the snapback.

“It’s important for people to define their terms. The Iran deal is a political arrangement consisting of non-binding political commitments,” Hook said. “So those who argue that a state cannot avail itself of legal rights if it is in violation of corresponding legal obligations don’t know how to read 2231.”

But Hook reiterated the administration’s present focus was on the arms embargo, and ensuring that it passes. “We certainly made the case on the merits for why it needs to be extended, and we’ll see how the council lines up. But … one way or the other, we are going to ensure that the arms embargo is extended,” he said.