Tunisian PM designate expects government next week: report

Tunisian President Kais Saied shakes hands with Prime Minister designate Habib Jemli in Tunis, Tunisia, in this handout pictured obtained by Reuters on November 15, 2019. (Reuters)
Updated 03 December 2019

Tunisian PM designate expects government next week: report

  • “I expect to finish forming the government next week,” the PM told Reuters

CARTHAGE: Tunisia’s prime minister-designate Habib Jemli expects to form a government next week with political independents holding most of the important portfolios, he said on Tuesday.
Jemli, who was named to the job by the moderate Islamist Ennahda party which finished first in October’s election, added that he would continue with economic reforms begun under previous governments, but would implement them differently.
“I expect to finish forming the government next week,” he told Reuters in an interview at the government office in Carthage.
October’s parliamentary election resulted in a deeply fractured parliament with no party winning more than a quarter of seats, complicating the process of coalition building.
Jemli said he would give the interior, justice, defense and foreign ministries to political independents who are unaffiliated with the big parties and that Ennahda understood this.
His choice of finance minister is somebody with a high local and international profile able to negotiate with foreign partners, Jemli said, without revealing the person’s name.
“Economic reforms and combating widespread corruption in all parts of the state will be my priority,” he said.
“Reforms are necessary, but with a new methodology. They must be in partnership with the labor union,” he added.
The union has opposed some government efforts to tighten public spending while foreign lenders have urged lower deficits.
The issue of corruption was thrust further into the political spotlight this autumn with the election of President Kais Saied, a political independent, a week after the parliamentary vote.
Saied, who as president has fewer immediate powers than the prime minister, ran an austere campaign that spent very little money and was portrayed by supporters as a figure of rigid personal integrity.
Tunisia’s economy has suffered years of low growth since the 2011 revolution that ended autocracy and introduced democratic rule, with successive governments struggling to create jobs and tame inflation.
Big increases in state jobs and public sector pay after the revolution contributed to large deficits and growing government debt, which the outgoing administration has tried to rein in through reforms backed by the International Monetary Fund.
Jemli said he planned to digitise more government functions, to improve governance of state-run companies, where performance has drastically declined since the revolution, and reduce bureaucracy.
Previous governments had gone wrong in failing to stick to the pledges they had made to international lenders regarding economic growth and the size of the public sector wage bill, he said.


Egypt slams Turkish minister’s remarks after refusing dialogue with Ankara

Egypt's Minister of Foreign Affairs Sameh Shoukry. (AFP)
Updated 5 min 11 sec ago

Egypt slams Turkish minister’s remarks after refusing dialogue with Ankara

  • Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry had responded to previous calls from Ankara over the necessity of improved dialogue with Egypt, stressing that Egypt was monitoring Turkish actions and statements to assess the viability of discussions

CAIRO: The Egyptian Foreign Ministry has condemned derogatory remarks made by the Turkish foreign minister, days after a Turkish attempt to open a dialogue with Egypt was rejected by Cairo.

The spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ahmed Hafez, denounced the foreign minister’s comments made in a conversation with a local TV channel, and said talking about Egypt in such a tone showed a lack of sincerity in Ankara’s efforts to seeking to create relations based on respect.

These developments came hours after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told reporters in Istanbul “we have no objection to dialogue with Egypt” on Friday.

Sources revealed that Ankara had contacted Cairo several times requesting a meeting between the two countries’ security officials over events in the Mediterranean. Egypt, however, refused over Cairo’s reservations about Turkey’s incursion into Libya, as well as its links to the Muslim Brotherhood.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry had responded to previous calls from Ankara over the necessity of improved dialogue with Egypt, stressing that Egypt was monitoring Turkish actions and statements to assess the viability of discussions. For now, he suggested, such talks were impossible on account of Turkey’s foreign policies.

“The policies that we see from the military presence on Syrian, Iraqi and Libyan soil, and the existing tension in the eastern Mediterranean, all indicate destabilizing expansionist policies in the region, and therefore cannot lead to dialogue and the start of a new page.

“The matter is not (one for) what is declared (by Turkey) but by actions and policies that promote stability, and are consistent with the rules of international relations and international legitimacy, which are of interest to us at this stage,” Shoukry said.

A few days ago, Shoukry confirmed that Turkish activity in many Arab countries represented the most significant emerging threat to Arab national security, stressing that Egypt would not remain idle in the face of these challenges.

In a speech before the Arab Ministerial Committee on Turkish interventions within the framework of the League of Arab States Council’s 154th regular session, he added that Egypt opposed Turkish ambitions manifesting themselves in northern Iraq, Syria and Libya in particular.