Tunisia President Kais Saied appoints new head of interior ministry

Ridha Gharsallaoui has served in the state security apparatus since the 1990s

Tunisian President Kais Saied, right, on Thursday appointed Ridha Gharsallaoui, left, a former national security adviser to the presidency, to run the Ministry of the Interior.
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Five days after dismissing the government and freezing parliament, the president of Tunisia, Kais Saied, appointed and swore in his national security adviser, Ridha Gharsallaoui, to run the Ministry of the Interior.

The move is considered controversial, because Tunisia's constitution puts the power to appoint permanent ministers in the hands of the prime minister, not the president. Mr Saied has yet to replace the head of government after sacking Hichem Mechichi on Sunday.

Mr Gharsallaoui will serve as de facto minister, with the responsibility to manage the ministry, which oversees internal affairs and civilian security forces, including the police.

During the swearing-in ceremony, Mr Saied said the appointment was in line with Article 89 of the constitution, which sets out the rules for the formation of a government.

"The state is not a marionette whose strings are pulled behind a curtain," Mr Saied said.

Tunisian president denies claims of coup

Tunisian president denies claims of coup

"The state is embodied by institutions that work in the service of citizens and their interests, within the framework of the constitution and the law."

Mr Gharsallaoui, who has served in the state security apparatus since the 1990s, was brought on by Mr Saied to serve as national security adviser in 2020. He has previously served in the Presidential Guard and is said to be a specialist in information and counterterrorism.

Mr Saied called on him to ensure security and "the continuity of the state in this delicate phase", and thanked the security forces of the Ministry of the Interior for putting "Tunisia above all else".

Updated: July 30, 2021, 11:23 AM