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The New Arab Staff

Tunisia PM designate pledges to form technocratic government without parties

Mechichi has until the end of the month to form a government [Getty]

Date of publication: 11 August, 2020

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Tunisia's largest faction, the Islamist Ennahdha party, has said it will oppose the formation of a non-political government by prime minister-designate Hichem Mechichi.
Tunisia's prime minister-designate promised on Monday to form a wholly technocratic government focused on alleviating social and economic hardships faced by ordinary Tunisians, Reuters reported.

Hichem Mechichi faces opposition from the country's largest political faction, the Islamist Ennahdha party, which has said it will oppose the formation of a non-political government.

The prime minister-designate needs to win a confidence vote in parliament for his proposed government by a simple majority. Ennahdha is the largest party in parliament.

If Mechichi fails to acquire support for the new government by the end of this month, President Kais Saied will dissolve parliament and call for a new election.

The proposal will likely win support from the influential UGTT trade union and some smaller political parties, such as Dustoury el Hor and Tahya Tounes.

Mechichi served as interior minister until late last month, when he was tasked by the president with forming a new government after the resignation of Elyes Fakhfakh over alleged conflicts of interest. Fakhfakh had faced fierce opposition from Ennahdha.

Read more: The UAE's hidden hand in Tunisia's political crisis

The prime minister-delegate pointedly addressed the political rift in his Monday statement, saying that "while the political dispute continues, some Tunisians have not found drinking water".

Nearly a decade after the ousting of dictator Zine el Abidine Ben Ali, Tunisia is still struggling to rebuild its economy, now suffering doubly under the weight of the global coronavirus crisis. Particularly affected are the southern regions of the country and the impoverished interior, where the 2011 revolt began.

Protests erupted in the country's long-marginalised interior earlier this year over widespread unemployment and poor public services.

Tunis said last month it had asked four countries to delay debt repayments amid the intensified economic crunch. Then-Prime Minister Fakhfakh predicted the country's economy would likely contract by more than six percent in 2020.

Mechichi has said his priority in government will be to rescue the dire state of the economy.

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