Tunisia’s parliament speaker narrowly survives confidence vote

Deputies and members of the Tunisian Islamist Ennahda party rejoice following a plenary session at the parliament in the capital Tunis on July 30, 2020. (AFP)
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Updated 31 July 2020

Tunisia’s parliament speaker narrowly survives confidence vote

  • The vote comes two weeks after Tunisia’s government collapsed less than five months into its term following corruption allegations against the prime minister, which he denied

TUNIS: Tunisia’s parliament speaker narrowly survived a confidence vote on Thursday, but his slim margin of victory may only deepen the country’s political divisions after the resignation of the prime minister.
Some 97 members of parliament voted against Rached Ghannouchi, veteran leader of the Islamist Ennahda party, falling short of the 109 needed to oust him.
However, with Ennahda and the conservative Karama party boycotting the vote to show their opposition to the motion, only 16 MPs gave him formal support.
Ghannouchi’s narrow margin of victory may indicate that Ennahda will now face fiercer opposition in parliament from parties that voted against him, potentially complicating efforts to agree on a new government.
The vote comes two weeks after Tunisia’s government collapsed less than five months into its term following corruption allegations against the prime minister, which he denied.

HIGHLIGHTS

• Rached Ghannouchi’s narrow margin of victory may indicate that Ennahda will now face fiercer opposition in parliament from parties that voted against him, potentially complicating efforts to agree on a new government.

• The vote comes two weeks after Tunisia’s government collapsed less than five months into its term following corruption allegations against the prime minister.

Both the confidence vote in Ghannouchi and the collapse of the short-lived government stem from an election last year that produced a deeply fragmented parliament in which Ennahda, as the biggest party, won only a quarter of the seats.
President Kais Saied, a political independent who won a separate election in a landslide last year, has nominated a new candidate for prime minister who must now propose a government that can win majority support in the divided parliament.
The political crisis has come at a difficult moment for Tunisia, where the global pandemic has crashed the economy just as the government was seeking to agree on reforms aimed at reducing public debt while boosting growth and creating jobs.


US says it seized four Iranian fuel shipments en route to Venezuela

Updated 29 min 4 sec ago

US says it seized four Iranian fuel shipments en route to Venezuela

  • It is the largest-ever US seizure of Iranian fuel, the Justice Department said
  • Tensions between Iran and the United States increased last year following a series of incidents involving shipping

WASHINGTON: The United States said on Friday it has seized four Iranian fuel shipments en route to Venezuela and confiscated the cargoes, disrupting a key supply line for both Tehran and Caracas as they defied US sanctions.
"With the assistance of foreign partners, this seized property is now in US custody," the Justice Department said in a statement, adding that the amount confiscated from four tankers was approximately 1.116 million barrels of fuel, making it the largest-ever US seizure of Iranian fuel. It did not specify when and where the seizure took place.
Washington has imposed sanctions on both countries to choke oil exports and deprive them of their main source of revenue in its bid to see the ouster of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and change the behavior of Iranian government.
Tensions between Iran and the United States increased last year following a series of incidents involving shipping in and near the Middle East Gulf.
US prosecutors filed a lawsuit in July to seize the gasoline aboard the four tankers, and a judge subsequently issued a warrant for seizure. Legal sources previously told Reuters that the cargoes could not be seized until they were in US territorial waters.
The Justice Department said following the seizure, Iran’s navy forcibly boarded an unrelated ship in an apparent attempt to recover the seized petroleum, but was unsuccessful and added that the US Central Command published a video of the attempt on Thursday.