Iran’s reformist ex-president endorses Rouhani

Supporters of Iranian President and presidential candidate Hassan Rouhani hold up his portrait during a campaign rally in the capital Tehran on Saturday. (AFP / ATTA KENARE)
Updated 14 May 2017
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Iran’s reformist ex-president endorses Rouhani

TEHRAN: Iran’s reformist ex-president Mohammad Khatami on Sunday endorsed President Hassan Rouhani in a video message, calling on voters to give him another term in this week’s election.
“Mr Rouhani’s government has been a successful one, despite all the limitations, problems and the great expectations,” he said in the video posted on social media.
“We should all go and vote for Rouhani, for freedom in thought, logic in dialogue, law in action, securing the rights of citizens and enforcing social and economic justice.”
Khatami praised the government for taming rampant inflation of above 40 percent in 2013 to below 9.5 percent and the “steps” taken against stagnation.
Unemployment has increased in the past four years from 10.5 percent to 12.5 percent, while youth joblessness stands at 27 percent.
“Many issues have been resolved but bigger issues remain, which we must all help to solve,” he said in the video published on his Telegram messenger account.
Khatami, the de facto leader of the reformist camp, has been under a media ban during the past few years for supporting the Green Movement protesters in the 2009 presidential election that saw hard-liner Mahmoud Ahmadinejad re-elected.
In 2016, he released a video that played a crucial role in helping pro-Rouhani candidates to defeat ultra-conservatives in parliamentary and Assembly of Experts elections.
The video became well-known for his use of the phrase “I repeat.”
“This time, it is you who should repeat. Repeat the vote for dear Rouhani, to boost hope for future,” he said on Sunday, referring to Friday’s presidential election.
In 2013, Khatami helped Rouhani take office by convincing reformist Mohammad Reza Aref to step aside in Rouhani’s favor.
It is yet to be seen if Khatami does the same in this election to the reformist First Vice President Eshaq Jahangiri who is running alongside Rouhani.
Khatami also warned people against being deceived by “baseless promises” from Rouhani’s conservative rivals who have vowed to increase cash handouts and create millions of jobs in four years.


Tunisia’s premier unlikely to push reform as polls loom

Chahed has gathered enough support in Parliament to stave off a possible vote of no confidence. (Reuters)
Updated 22 September 2018
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Tunisia’s premier unlikely to push reform as polls loom

  • By surviving for more than two years, Chahed has become the longest-serving of Tunisia’s nine prime ministers since the Arab Spring in 2011
  • Western partners see him as the best guarantee of stability in an infant democracy that they are desperate to shore up

Tunisian Prime Minister Youssef Chahed has survived attempts by his own party and unions to force him out but, with elections looming, looks less and less able to enact the economic reforms that have so far secured IMF support for an ailing economy.

Last week, the Nidaa Tounes party suspended Chahed after a campaign by the party chairman, who is the son of President Beji Caid Essebsi.

Chahed has gathered enough support in Parliament to stave off a possible vote of no confidence by working with the co-ruling Islamist Ennahda party and a number of other lawmakers including 10 Nidaa Tounes rebels. But his political capital is now badly depleted.

By surviving for more than two years, Chahed has become the longest-serving of Tunisia’s nine prime ministers since the Arab Spring in 2011.

In that time, he has pushed through austerity measures and structural reforms such as cutting fuel subsidies that have helped to underpin a $2.8 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and other financial support.

Western partners see him as the best guarantee of stability in an infant democracy that they are desperate to shore up, not least as a bulwark against extremism.

Yet the economy, and living standards, continue to suffer: inflation and unemployment are at record levels, and goods such as medicines or even staples such as milk are often in short supply, or simply unaffordable to many.

And in recent months, the 43-year old former agronomist’s main focus has been to hold on to his job as his party starts to look to its ratings ahead of presidential and parliamentary polls in a year’s time.

The breathing space he has won is at best temporary; while propping him up for now, Ennahda says it will not back him to be prime minister again after the elections.

And, more pressingly, the powerful UGTT labor union on Thursday called a public sector strike for Oct. 24 to protest against Chahed’s privatization plans.

This month, the government once more raised petrol and electricity prices to secure the next tranche of loans, worth $250 million, which the IMF is expected to approve next week.

But the IMF also wants it to cut a public wage bill that takes up 15 percent of GDP, one of the world’s highest rates.