New Tunisia government wins confidence vote in parliament

Elyes Fakhfakh, bottom right, has brought parties from across the political spectrum into his Cabinet — and they continue to disagree on several big policy areas. (AFP)
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Updated 27 February 2020

New Tunisia government wins confidence vote in parliament

  • The government's priorities would include fighting widespread corruption and reforming public services and the state phosphate producer.

TUNIS: Tunisia’s new government won a confidence vote in parliament on Thursday, after more than four months of political wrangling since elections.
Former finance minister Elyes Fakhfakh was named prime minister-designate by Tunisia’s president Kais Saied at the end of January and tasked with forming a government within a month.
A previous cabinet team put forward by him was rejected by the Islamist-inspired party Ennahdha, which won the most seats in October’s legislative election but fell far short of a majority in the 217-seat assembly.
But Fakhfakh’s revised lineup won the vote 129 to 77 after a debate which started on Wednesday and lasted more than 14 hours.
Ennahdha had given its support to the new cabinet after being handed six portfolios.
Fakhfakh said last week that despite difficulties, the negotiations had taken place “in a completely democratic manner.”

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The confidence vote follows a power struggle between the president and Ennahdha, with the party previously threatening to take steps to force out Fakhfakh.
The government will be sworn in at a ceremony to be held later on Thursday at the Presidential Palace, the president’s press office told AFP.
Fakhfakh will become the eighth Prime Minister in Tunisia since the 2011 revolution ousted President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.
Tunisia, which has been managed for more than four months by the outgoing government, has been trying to revive a struggling economy but unemployment continues to affect the population, especially the young, and inflation is eroding an already low purchasing power.
The new government will be tasked with relaunching discussions with the International Monetary Fund, which in 2016 approved a four-year, $3 billion loan for Tunisia in return for major reforms, some of which are disputed.
Due to delays, the country has only received about $1.6 billion so far, while the facility ends in April and the first repayments are due in November.


Tunisia seeks to block online auction of royal artefacts

Updated 02 June 2020

Tunisia seeks to block online auction of royal artefacts

  • They are due to go under the hammer in an online June 11 sale organized by a Paris auction house

TUNIS: The head of Tunisia’s National Heritage Institute urged authorities Tuesday to block the sale of royal artefacts at an auction in France, saying they were spirited out of the country.
More than 100 objects “of huge historical value were taken out of the country without any official authorization in the second half of March, in the midst of the (coronavirus) lockdown,” Faouzi Mahfoudh said.
“They don’t belong to any state museum. It’s private property,” the head of the National Heritage Institute told AFP.
They include an ancient Qur'an which belonged to Mohamed el-Moncef Bey, one of the last representatives of the Husseinite monarchy that ruled Tunisia from 1705 until its independence from France in 1957, Mahfoudh said.
Also in the lot is the original copy of a reference book on the Husseinite monarchy written by 19th century Tunisian historian and politician Ahmed ibn Abi Dhiaf.
Among the 114 objects are ceremonial apparel from the start of the 20th century, religious manuscripts, poetry books and official correspondence.
They are due to go under the hammer in an online June 11 sale organized by the Paris-based Coutau-Bégarie auction house.
“The authorities must do what is needed to stop this sale because these objects have a priceless value and are part of the country’s history,” said Mahfoudh.
He said that authorities on Tuesday had launched an investigation to determine how the artefacts were smuggled out of Tunisia.
Mahfoudh said the National Heritage Institute had only found out on Sunday that the objects had left Tunisia without authorization.
“I will not cede these objects to anyone for all the money in the world,” Mahfoudh said.
The National Heritage Institute is also planning on submitting an official complaint to the state prosecutor, he said.