First Published: 2017-09-12

Tunisia PM wins confidence vote for cabinet reshuffle
Chahed promises government of combat to continue war against terrorism, war against corruption, war for economic growth.
Middle East Online

Chahed easily won a confidence vote for his new line-up

TUNIS - Tunisia's President Beji Caid Essebsi strengthened his grip on power late Monday when parliament approved a cabinet reshuffle ahead of key elections.

Observers say the new cabinet, which places Essebsi allies in key positions, consolidates the 90-year-old president's hold on the executive, months ahead of Tunisia's first post-revolution municipal polls.

"It is the president who pulls the strings," French language daily Le Quotidien said.

Prime Minister Youssef Chahed easily won a confidence vote for his new line-up, backed by lawmakers from his own Nidaa Tounes party and its Islamist ally in government, Ennahdha, which together dominate parliament.

He announced the new line-up last week after talks with Essebsi, who founded secular Nidaa Tunes and later became prime minister before being elected president in the wake of a 2011 revolution that overthrew veteran dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.

Chahed, the youngest premier in the North African country's post-independence history, promised a "government of combat" to continue "the war against terrorism, the war against corruption, the war for growth, the war against unemployment and regional inequalities".

He played up his government's economic achievements and said he had appointed new interior and defence ministers "to strengthen our country's capacities in the fight against terrorism, organised crime and smuggling".

But observers say the new team consolidates the clout of Essebsi's Nidaa Tounes.

The new cabinet includes former advisers to the president as ministers of finance and health, while the nominee for the defence ministry, Abdelkrim Zbidi, held the same post when Essebsi was prime minister.

Analyst Selim Kharrat said Essebsi had the government under his control well before the reshuffle.

"The only difference is that it is much more blatant... and that the presidency hardly hides," he said.

Essebsi has yet to give any indication of his intentions when his five-year term ends in 2019.

Many of his detractors have voiced concern about the intentions of his son, Hafedh Caid Essebsi, the influential leader of Nidaa Tounes.

In a country still marked by decades of dictatorship, many have also criticised the nomination of ministers who served under Ben Ali.

Chahed said his new cabinet would respect the "national unity" needed to pass much-needed reforms.

 

Baghdad refuses talks with Kurdistan about referendum results

Three Israelis killed at West Bank settlement

Seven arrested in Egypt for raising rainbow flag at concert

European ambassadors to US strongly back Iran nuclear pact

Dubai set to become first city with flying taxis

Libya's Haftar bolsters stature as key player

Kurdish independence: How far will Turkey go?

Germany’s de facto ‘IS leader’ on trial

IMF satisfied with Egypt's 'bold' reforms

Qatar Airways places $2bn order for six Boeing planes

Erdogan expects ‘ethnic war’ after Iraqi Kurdish independence vote

Israelis shocked by German nationalist gains

Hamas-Fatah reconciliation process shows growing Egyptian influence in region

74-year-old Iranian gets death sentence for explicit parties

Iraqi soldiers take part in Turkish military drill

Iran joins Turkey in warning of regional chaos from Kurd vote

Turkish hunger-striking academics in intensive care

Returning Syrians find Raqa city unrecognisable

How far can Baghdad become independent of Iranian influence?

Qatar World Cup worker sacked after speaking to UN team

China conducts first military drills in Djibouti

Saudi official axed over king's image with Yoda

Syrian government ready to discuss Kurdish autonomy

63-year-old American abducted in Yemen's Sanaa

US kills ISIS chiefs hiding in new nerve centre

Saudi establishment spreading Shiite hate speech

Madrid hails Rabat’s collaboration in fighting terrorism

Regional tensions rise in Kurds’ independence vote

Iraq Kurds start voting in historic independence referendum

UAE announces plans for region’s first nuclear reactor

Erdogan threatens Iraqi Kurds with border closure, oil block

Putin to visit Erdogan this week for Syria, Iraq talks

Sudan vows to step up efforts to improve US ties

Turkey to launch intervention into Syria — and maybe into Iraq

Egyptian ‘world’s heaviest woman’ dies in Abu Dhabi

Palestinian unity government remains unlikely

Emirati man fights his employer to serve in country’s army

Palestinian PM to visit Gaza next week

Saudi advisory body to tackle female driving ban

Turkey denies closing Iraqi border in response to Kurdish vote

US air strikes kill 17 Islamic State militants in Libya

US-led strikes killed 84 civilians near Syria's Raqa

Yemen's Hadi says military solution 'most likely'

The high cost of Syria’s destruction

Palestinian negotiator awaits lung transplant in US