Tunisia's President Saied says new PM to be appointed within days

Announcement follows appointments to a raft of security posts

President Saied has yet to appoint a new prime minister after sacking Hichem Mechichi in July
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Tunisian President Kais Saied said he intends to form a new government in the next few days after freezing parliament and dismissing the prime minister in July.

Mr Saied announced his intention in an interview broadcast by the presidency on Thursday as the interim interior minister appointed nine senior officials, including a new intelligence chief.

The country has been without a prime minister or government since July 25, when Mr Saied invoked Article 80 of the constitution, which allows a president to take exceptional measures in times of "imminent danger" to the country, and dismissed Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi.

The constitutional provision sets a 30-day period for such an exceptional period, but without a constitutional court to review the decision, the president has said he could extend the deadline, which expires Tuesday.

Mr Saied's reticence to appoint a new prime minister or indicate his next steps have raised concerns among some Tunisians about the future of the democratic system that the country adopted after its 2011 revolution.

In a response to calls for a clear outline of steps out of the crisis, Mr Saied said in his statement that those who want a roadmap should "consult a geography book".

Several possible candidates for the premiership have been floated in recent weeks, including the governor of Tunisia's Central Bank, Marouane Abassi, and the president's chief of staff, Nadia Akacha, a political outsider like the president with little executive experience.

Since July 25, Mr Saied has taken steps to overhaul several ministries, despite constitutional provisions which give that power to the prime minister. He has appointed interim caretakers in key ministries, particularly the interior ministry.

Mr Saied said last week there had been attempts to infiltrate the interior ministry that he would not allow to succeed, but has not offered any details.

The interior ministry said Sami Yahyaoui has been appointed head of intelligence, Makram Akid as the anti-terrorism chief and Mourad Hussein as director general of public security.

On Wednesday, Mr Saied met Interior Minister Ridha Gharsalloui and appointed Sami Hichri and Chokri Riahi as director general of national security and commander of the National Guard, respectively, the Tunisian Presidency said on its Twitter account.

Sources close to the presidential palace have said Mr Saied wanted to introduce radical changes in the state apparatus, especially the security service, after it remained a centre of political polarisation during the past decade.

Updated: August 23, 2021, 9:18 AM