Tunisian president accepts new ministers, easing high-level standoff

Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi gives a press conference on November 8, 2018 in Carthage Palace near Tunis concerning the cabinet reshuffle. (AFP)
Updated 08 November 2018
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Tunisian president accepts new ministers, easing high-level standoff

TUNIS: Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi said on Thursday he was ready to swear in ten new ministers named in a reshuffle that he had originally rejected, easing a high-level political standoff that has alarmed donors.
Prime Minister Youssef Chahed announced the reshuffle on Monday - but Essebsi quickly rejected it, saying he had not been consulted.
On Thursday, he relented and told reporters he would swear in the ministers if parliament approved the changes. "I have no problem with the prime minister but I dislike the handling of his reshuffle," he said.
The dispute highlighted tensions at the highest levels of Tunisian politics that have been exacerbated by an economic crisis.
Chahed leads a government dominated by the ruling Nidaa Tounes party.
But the prime minister has been caught up in a dispute with the leader of the party, Hafedh Caid Essebsi, who is also the president's son and has accused Chahed of failing to tackle high inflation, unemployment and other problems.
The political wrangling has alarmed donors which have kept the country afloat with loans granted in exchange for a promise of reforms such as cutting a bloated public service.
Essebsi also announced Thursday that the state of emergency in the country has been extended at the request of the government.
Tunisia's economy has been in crisis since the North African state kicked off the Muslim World's "Arab Spring" uprisings by toppling autocrat Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali in 2011.
Chahed's reshuffle announced on Monday is the 10th major cabinet overhaul since then. He said it would "make the work of government more effective and to put an end to the political and economic crisis".
Chahed kept the leadership of finance, foreign and the interior ministries unchanged.
He named Jewish businessman Rene Trabelsi as minister of tourism in the Muslim Arab country, just the third member of the small minority to enter the cabinet since Tunisia's independence in 1956.
A former foreign minister under Ben Ali, Kamel Morjan, was named minister in charge of the public service, the country's main employer.


Iran denounces latest US sanctions as ‘fruitless’

Updated 35 min 8 sec ago
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Iran denounces latest US sanctions as ‘fruitless’

  • “Sooner or later they will become aware of the futility of their schemes”
  • US slapped fresh sanctions on Iran on Tuesday, accusing it of creating a complex web of Russian cut-out companies and Syrian intermediaries to ship oil to Damascus

TEHRAN: Iran’s foreign ministry denounced the latest US Treasury sanctions as “fruitless and senseless” in a statement issued on Wednesday.
“These fruitless, senseless and ineffective sanctions... will undoubtedly never achieve the desired outcome of their designers and enforcers,” it said.
“Sooner or later they will become aware of the futility of their schemes.”
Washington slapped fresh sanctions on Tehran Tuesday, accusing it of creating a complex web of Russian cut-out companies and Syrian intermediaries to ship oil to Damascus, which in turn bankrolled Hezbollah and Hamas.
The US considers both Hezbollah, a heavily armed Lebanese militia, and Hamas, the Palestinian Islamist group that controls the Gaza Strip, to be terrorist organizations.
The US Treasury said in a statement that Tehran, “working with Russian companies, provides millions of barrels of oil to the Syrian government” of President Bashar Assad.
“The Assad regime, in turn, facilitates the movement of hundreds of millions of US dollars to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps — Qods Force for onward transfer to Hamas and Hezbollah,” it said, referring to Iran’s main foreign military operations unit.