Tunisia's Ennahda party to withdraw confidence from government

The largest party in parliament says Prime Minister Elyes Fakhfakh has lost credibility

Tunisia's Prime Minister Elyes Fakhfakh speaks at the Assembly of People's Representatives in Tunis, Tunisia on February 26, 2020. Reuters
Tunisia's Prime Minister Elyes Fakhfakh speaks at the Assembly of People's Representatives in Tunis, Tunisia on February 26, 2020. Reuters

Tunisia's Ennahda, the biggest party in the parliament, withdrew confidence in the government on Wednesday, deepening the political crisis engulfing Prime Minister Elyes Fakhfakh.

The party said the government has lost credibility due to an alleged conflict of interest surrounding Mr Fakhfakh.

Ennahda with 54 MPs needs 109 votes in parliament to withdraw confidence and will seek support for the motion from its two allies, the Karama and Heart of Tunisia parties.

Mr Fakhfakh said on Monday he will conduct a cabinet reshuffle in the coming days in what appears to be a step to remove Ennahda's six ministers from the government.

But Ennahda’s response came quickly and could make Mr Fakhfkah's cabinet, which he formed in February, the first to collapse within six months in the North Africa country.

"We adopted the option to withdraw confidence from the prime minister and mandates the party leader to follow up on the implementation of the decision'", said Ennahda official Imed Khemiri.

An independent member of parliament published documents last month indicating that the prime minister owned shares in companies that had won deals worth 44 million dinars ($15 million) from the state.

Mr Fakhfakh has denied he did anything improper or corrupt. He has promised to step down if investigators find wrongdoing.

Tunisia is struggling to revive its collapsed economy since the 2011 revolution that ended the rule of former president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and sparked the Arab uprisings.

The government said on Monday it asked four countries to delay debt repayments, as it announced more pessimistic economic and budget forecasts for 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The request on debt repayments underscores the dire condition of Tunisia's public finances, already a source of concern before the coronavirus crisis pummelled the global economy.

Updated: July 15, 2020 09:58 AM

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