Tunisian Prime Minister appoints new ministers for a significant cupboard reshuffle from Reuters

© Reuters. Tunisia’s new government swearing-in ceremony at the Carthage Palace outside the capital, Tunis

From Tarek Amara

TUNIS, (Reuters) – Tunisian Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi appointed 12 new ministers in a cabinet reshuffle on Saturday who he hopes will bring new blood to his government in the face of mounting political tension and an unprecedented economic crisis.

Mechichi named Walid Dhabi as the new interior minister after firing Taoufik Charfeddine, who is close to President Kais Saied, this month. This underscores the tension between the country’s two most powerful leaders

Saied and Mechichi argue over their respective powers and political alliances, threatening the stability necessary to push through much-needed reforms.

Hedi Khairi has been named Minister of Health following criticism of the government’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic. The official time for vaccinations to start in Tunisia is not yet known.

Disputes have also rocked the ranks of coalition partners who support the government. The Karama party refused to vote on the reshuffle and threatened to leave the coalition.

Mechichi appointed Youssef Zouaghi as Minister of Justice, Sofien Ben Touns as Minister of Energy and Oussama Kheriji as Minister of Agriculture.

“The next phase is full of challenges, including the reforms necessary for the economy that require increased efficiency and harmony,” said Mechichi.

Although Tunisia became a democracy after its 2011 uprising, its economy has deteriorated, the country is on the verge of bankruptcy and political leaders appear paralyzed.

The 2019 elections left a bitterly fragmented parliament that failed to produce a stable government. The parties fought over cabinet seats and postponed major decisions.

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