Tunisia suspends government consultations due to Covid-19

Tunisia suspends government consultations due to Covid-19 surge
2 min read
18 July, 2021
Consultations to resolve an ongoing political crisis have been halted due to a resurgence of the Covid-19 pandemic as Tunisia records Africa’s highest per-capita rate.
A group of volunteers carry out disinfection works in the streets of Tunis. [Getty]

Tunisia's Ennahda Movement has suspended consultations to form a new government due to a new wave of Covid-19 ravaging the country, as the nation reels under its worst coronavirus surge since the pandemic began.

The movement's spokesperson, Fathi Ayadi, called on the national forces to put their political differences aside and focus on the country's pandemic response.

"All other duties come second to confronting this crisis," Ayadi said. "The only battle for the Ennahda Movement now is to combat the coronavirus amid the country's serious health, social and economic conditions."

Tunisia has been hit by a political crisis since January, when Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi dismissed five ministers close to the president and assigned other officials to the vacant posts in the interim period.

President Kais Saied said the move violated the constitution and refused to allow the new officials to swear in. He also refused to seal a bill on the formation of the Constitutional Court that had twice received prior approval by Parliament.

Parliament Speaker Rached Ghannouchi, who leads the majority Ennahda party, said Saied did not have the power to oppose a vote of confidence was granted to them in Parliament and defined his role as "symbolic".

Saied's status as president, however, makes him leader of Tunisia's armed forces. Some Arab media have accused him of planning a "soft coup".

The Ennahda's Shura Council confirmed in a press conference that the party is not concerned with political consultations at present due to the spread of Covid-19. Nonetheless, it called for the formation of a "government capable of confronting the country's current crises".

Some regions have had to go back into lockdown, prompting waves of donations of vaccines or medical aid from China, France, Turkey, Italy, the United Arab Emirates and Algeria.

The army has been deployed to vaccinate people in the regions with the worst infection rates and in areas with particularly low vaccination rates.

Tunisia has reported Africa’s highest per-capita pandemic death toll and is currently recording one of the world's highest daily per-capita infection rates.