Tunisia's parliament picks Ennahda leader as speaker

Tunisia’s interim parliament speaker, Abdelfattah Mourou (L) greets Tunisian Ennahdha party leader Rached Ghannouchi as he hands him the chair at the first session of the new parliament following October elections, on Nov. 13, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 13 November 2019

Tunisia's parliament picks Ennahda leader as speaker

  • Ghannouchi, 78, faced competition from two rival politicians for the post of speaker
  • Ennahda came first in last month’s election

TUNIS: Tunisia’s new parliament on Wednesday elected Rached Ghannouchi, leader of the moderate Islamist Ennahda party, as its speaker after the rival Heart of Tunisia party backed him, opening the way for a possible coalition government between them.
Ennahda came first in last month’s election, but took only 52 of 217 seats in a deeply fragmented parliament, forcing it to compromise to win majority support for its preferred candidates for speaker and for prime minister.
However, its efforts to build a coalition with several rival parties have so far come to nothing and Tunisia continues with a caretaker government under the existing prime minister, Youssef Chahed.
Wednesday’s election for speaker represented a big test for Ennahda, which was banned before Tunisia’s 2011 revolution but has since played a big role in several coalition governments.
Its veteran leader Ghannouchi, 78, had faced competition from two rival politicians for the post of speaker. It is his first official post since he returned to Tunisia from exile in London after the 2011 revolution.
It was not immediately clear what price, if any, Heart of Tunisia asked for supporting Ghannouchi as speaker but the party led by media magnate Nabil Karoui now appears likely to join a coalition government with Ennahda.
“The party decided to vote for Ennahda after an agreement,” said Ridha Charfeddine, a Heart of Tunisia lawmaker.
It and Ennahda have presented themselves as ideological rivals and have both previously ruled out entering into coalition.
The Attayar and Achaab parties, which had previously been in negotiations with Ennahda over Ghannouchi’s candidacy, did not back in Wednesday’s vote.
Ennahda, as the biggest party in parliament, has until Friday to name its nominee for prime minister, starting the clock on a two-month process for that person to form a government. It is not yet known whom it will nominate.
Tunisia’s post-revolution constitution splits power between the newly elected President Kais Saied and a government that passes legislation through the parliament.


UAE cancels visa extension for expatriates

Updated 11 min 33 sec ago

UAE cancels visa extension for expatriates

  • The UAE’s decision to extend the validity of identity cards that expired on March 31 until December 31 was canceled
  • The Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship will begin charging fees for its services starting July 12

DUBAI: The UAE Cabinet has revised its earlier regulations for residency visas of expatriates whose stay in the country was affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
UAE residents, whether they are in or outside the country, whose visas expired between March 1 and March 31 this year were given three months to renew their documents after the government took back its earlier decision to extend the validity until the end of December.
The UAE’s decision to extend the validity of identity cards that expired on March 31 until December 31 was also canceled.
The UAE Cabinet’s resolution took immediate effect.
“The decision came after the current situation was studied in detail to ensure that there were no negative effects or repercussions on various sectors,” state news agency WAM reported.
The decision linked to the validity of visas and entry permits for expats inside the UAE – starting March 1 to December of 2020 – will be removed, the report added.
The Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship will begin charging fees for its services starting July 12.
The Cabinet also approved granting residents outside the UAE and with expired residency visa after March 1 – or those who have passed six months outside the state – a period to return to the UAE from the date of opening the airspace between both countries.
The Cabinet said the current services must be offered through electronic systems to facilitate and limit the crowding of customers.