Tunisia’s PM reshuffles cabinet to tackle economic crisis

Tunisia's Prime Minister Youssef Chahed speaks at the Assembly of People's Representatives in Tunis, Tunisia November 18, 2016. (Reuters)
Updated 06 November 2018
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Tunisia’s PM reshuffles cabinet to tackle economic crisis

  • Chahed will make changes to at least six portfolios, including Tourism, Energy, Health and Transport, one of the sources said

TUNIS: Tunisian Prime Minister Youssef Chahed named 10 new ministers on Monday in a cabinet reshuffle he hopes will inject fresh blood into his government which has been widely criticised for failing to fix an economic crisis.
Key portfolios such as finance, foreign and the interior ministries were kept unchanged.
Since the toppling of autocrat Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali in 2011, Tunisia’s economy has been in crisis and nine cabinets have failed to resolve economic problems, including high inflation and unemployment.
Chahed named businessman Jewish Rene Trabelsi as minister of tourism, only the third member of the small minority of 2,000 Jews to enter a cabinet since Tunisia's independence in 1956.
A former foreign minister under Ben Ali, Kamel Morjan, became minister in charge of the public service, the country's main employer.
"This reshuffle is to make the work of government more effective and to put an end to the political and economic crisis," Chahed said in a statement.
Impatience has been rising among lenders such as the International Monetary Fund, which have kept the country afloat with billions of dollars in loans.
The reshuffle came amid a political crisis as the president's son, Hafedh Caid Essebsi, who is leader of the ruling party Nidaa Tounes, called for the dismissal of Chahed because of his government’s failure to revive the economy.
In a sign of the distrust inside the ruling party, President Beji Caid Essebsi rejected the resuffle as he had been informed too late about it without prior consultation, his spokeswoman Saida Garrach said.
Essebsi cannot stop the reshuffle. It needs to be approved by parliament where Chahed has assembled a majority of lawmakers backing him.
Nidaa Tounes rules with moderates who have backed Chahed.
Its demand has been supported by the powerful UGTT union which has also opposed Chahed's plans to overhaul loss-making public companies.
Tunisia has been hailed for its democratic transition since 2011 but the North African country has been hit by economic crisis and militant attacks since then.


Houthis mobilize to fight ahead of UN envoy’s visit

Pro-government drive in an industrial district in the eastern outskirts of the port city Hodeidah. (AFP)
Updated 19 November 2018
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Houthis mobilize to fight ahead of UN envoy’s visit

  • Dozens of Houthis put on a show of strength on the outskirts of Sanaa on Saturday
  • UN special envoy Martin Griffiths said on Friday that he plans to travel to Sanaa in the coming week

SANAA: Iran-backed Houthi militias have said they are ready to mobilize more fighters to the frontline despite a lull in battleground Hodeidah, as the UN envoy prepares to visit the country to boost peace efforts.

Dozens of Houthis put on a show of strength on the outskirts of Sanaa on Saturday, apparently getting ready to head toward Hodeidah, a Red Sea city home to a vital port.

Men, some of whom looked very young, were lining up with bandoliers around their shoulders and rifles in their hands, chanting Houthi slogans.

Residents said on Sunday that relative calm had held in Hodeidah city since pro-government forces announced a pause in their offensive last week amid international calls for a cease-fire and UN-led peace efforts.  They added, however, that they remain on edge.

Meanwhile, coalition fighter jets on Sunday carried out a series of strikes targeting Houthi positions west of Marib. The strikes, which were accompanied by shelling, came after the Iranian-supported militia launched ballistic missiles toward the city of Marib. Coalition forces successfully intercepted the missiles, Yemeni army media said.

UN special envoy Martin Griffiths said on Friday that he plans to travel to Sanaa in the coming week to finalize arrangements for peace talks to take place in Sweden soon.

Hameed Assem, a member of the militia delegation expected to take part in the negotiations, said that Houthis will continue to mobilize if UN efforts for peace fail to materialize.

Pro-government forces on Wednesday suspended their 12-day offensive in Hodeidah.

Griffiths said on Friday that both the government and the Houthis have shown a “renewed commitment” to work on a political solution and have given “firm assurances” that they will attend the talks. No date has yet been set.

(AFP)