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Tunisia Islamist party 'has reservations' on unity government

Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi (R) meets with Youssef Chahed [Getty]

Date of publication: 21 August, 2016

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Tunisia's Ennahda party says it has 'some reservations' about the line-up of the country's new unity government announced the previous day.
Tunisia's Islamist Ennahda party, the largest in parliament, said on Sunday it has "some reservations" about the line-up of the country's new unity government announced the previous day.

"We have some observations and reservations to pass on to the head of the government-designate," Abdelkarim Harouni, head of the party's top body the Shura Council, told reporters.

The council met for several hours on Sunday after premier-designate Youssef Chahed unveiled his unity government Saturday, pledging to work to try to resolve deep social and economic crises that plague Tunisia five years after the Arab Spring revolt.

If his cabinet is confirmed by parliament, Chahed, 40, would become the youngest Tunisian prime minister since the North African country won independence from France in 1956.

"We will not accept any suspicion of corruption (among the government members), nor any personality who would seek to exclude Ennahda or any other party," Harouni said, without naming anyone.

But he also added that Ennahda's reservations would not prevent it from given the line-up its vote of confidence, noting that the Shura Council had ratified the level of the party's participation in government.

"We will not go as far as to block the government," Harouni said, adding that the Ennahda parliamentary group "will announce its precise position later" on the confidence vote.

Two Ennahda ministers figure in the proposed cabinet, as opposed to one previously.

Parliament will on Monday set a date for the vote of confidence in the new government.

With 69 members in the 217-seat legislature, Ennahda is the largest party in parliament.

If his cabinet receives parliamentary approval, Chahed's main task will be to tackle the economic and social crises gripping the North African country since the 2011 revolution that toppled longtime dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. Chahed has also pledged to combat terrorism and corruption.

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