Tunisia President Holds Talks On Naming New Prime Minister

Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi was holding talks on Tuesday on naming a new prime minister to lead a unity government, a source close to the president said.

“The name of the future head of government will be announced this week, very possibly Wednesday,” the source told AFP.

On Saturday, parliament passed a vote of no confidence in the government of Habib Essid, 67, after just 18 months in office.

The constitution requires the president to select the next prime minister.

Talks began on Monday evening between Essebsi and representatives of Tunisia’s main political blocs at the presidential palace in Tunis.

Representatives of Essebsi’s own Nidaa Tounes, the Islamist party Ennahda and Nobel Prize-winning groups the UGTT union and UTICA were present.

Local media reported the president had proposed Minister for Local Affairs Youssef Chahed, of Nidaa Tounes, for the role.

But the source close to the president told AFP: “Nothing has yet been decided.”

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Chahed, 41 and an in-law of Essebsi, is regarded by critics as a member of a failed government.

Officials in Nidaa Tounes have said the new prime minister should come from their party.

Nidaa won elections in 2014, but lost 22 lawmakers in January when they left to form their own Al-Horra (The Free) bloc, making Ennahda the largest group in parliament.

Essid’s government had faced growing criticism for failing to tackle an economic crisis and repeated jihadist attacks.

In January, he was forced into a cabinet reshuffle.

After Essebsi said in June that he would support forming a new unity government, Essid said he was prepared to quit, but later called for a confidence vote and criticised “pressure” to quit.

Aides to the premier said the pressure had come from Hafedh Caid Essebsi, a leader of Nidaa Tounes and son of the president.


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