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Tunisia minister quits over 'lack of will' to fight graft

AFP , Monday 5 Oct 2015
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Tunisia's minister in charge of relations with parliament announced Monday he has submitted his resignation in protest at the lack of will to battle corruption in the North African nation.

"I can no longer be part of a government that lacks the political will to confront graft," Lazhar Akremi told AFP, confirming reports that he has quit.

In his resignation letter to Prime Minister Habib Essid -- published in the media -- Akremi said his efforts to "make heard the voices of the oppressed and victims of injustice were crushed by corruption that multiplies daily".

Akremi, a founder member of Tunisia's main political force Nidaa Tounes, wondered "if there really is a will to fight against corruption in a country where the share of the shadow economy has reached 54 percent of GDP".

Contacted by AFP, the government had no comment, including on whether his resignation, the first since the cabinet's inauguration in February, had been accepted.

According to a World Bank report titled "The Unfinished Revolution", corruption costs Tunisia the equivalent of two percent of gross domestic product.

Nearly five years after state corruption triggered the fall of president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, petty graft still plagues the economy.

Common examples include tax evasion, doctored entry exam results for public sector jobs and bribes to speed up official paperwork.

At least 450 million dinars (200 million euros/$230 million) in bribes were slipped to state employees in 2013 alone, according to a study by the Tunisian Association for Public Auditors.

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