Tunisia's president dismisses two more ministers

President Kais Saied relieves finance and communications ministers in latest government shake-up

Tunisian President Kais Saied has dismissed both the finance and economy minister and the communications and technologies minister, who is also acting agriculture and water resources minister, from their positions.

On Monday evening, Mr Saied named Sihem Boughdiri to run the finance and economy ministry and Nizar ben Najy to run the communications and technologies ministry, a statement said.

The president has dismissed several officials since freezing parliament, firing the prime minister and taking on executive powers over a week ago.

A former constitutional law professor, Mr Saied has denied claims he mounted a coup, saying his sweeping moves adhere strictly to the constitution.

Local polls show the vast majority of respondents support his actions.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan told Mr Saied on Monday the continuation of the Tunisian Parliament's work was important for the region, his office said.

Mr Erdogan "emphasised that the Parliament of Tunisia ... maintaining operations despite all difficulties was important for the democracy of Tunisia and the region," adding the work of Parliament was "vital".

Security forces arrested two more MPs from an Islamist party that opposed the president. Maher Zid and Mohamed Affes of Al Karama were placed in provisional detention in connection with a military investigation, party head Seifeddine Makhlouf wrote on Facebook on Sunday.

Their arrest late on Saturday came a day after the detention of an independent MP, Yassine Ayari.

The president also said desperate youths are being paid to try to leave Tunisia illegally for Europe, saying the goal is to damage the country from within and hurt its ties with Europe.

President Kais Saied made the remarks during a stroll down the iconic Avenue Bourguiba, the main axis in the Tunisian capital of Tunis, on Sunday. He listened to passersby calling out his name and shouting “Tunisia!” but said nothing about his much-awaited next steps.

Mr Saied denounced those who exploit migrants, as hundreds of youths leave Tunisia in the warm season to try to make their way by smugglers’ boats to Europe.

He claimed some of his countrymen with political motives are paying desperate youth to make the trip, saying their intention is to repeat the mass illegal migration that began after the Tunisian revolution a decade ago.

“There are people who hurt Tunisia. I ask myself how they could make 1,500 youths leave,” he said in a video released by his office.

“They give them money so that they leave. Those people exploit misery and want a remake of what happened in 2011,” Mr Saied said.

“They are hurting Tunisia’s relations with Italy, Europe and other countries.”

Updated: August 3rd 2021, 5:21 AM
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