Tunisia's Saied swears in new ministers after sackings

AFP , Tuesday 31 Jan 2023

Tunisian President Kais Saied swore in new education and agriculture ministers on Tuesday, politically sensitive posts in the crisis-hit country that saw record low turnout at weekend elections.

Tunisian President Kais Saied
File Photo: Tunisian President Kais Saied delivers a speech in Tunisia. AP

Saied on Monday sacked the former ministers, Fethi Sellaouti and Elyes Hamza respectively, a day after Tunisia's second-round vote for its neutered parliament saw just 11.4 percent of registered voters take part.

On Tuesday, he was seen swearing in the ministerial replacements, Mohamed Ali Boughdiri to education and Abdelmomen Belati to agriculture, in videos posted on the presidency's Facebook page.

Tunisia has faced mounting economic woes in recent months, with repeated strikes by teachers and transportation workers along with shortages of basic goods, including milk, as farmers struggle to pay for fodder.

The resulting public discontent has put growing pressure on Saied, a year and a half after his dramatic power grab swept away the parliament born out of Tunisia's 2011 pro-democracy revolt which sparked the Arab Spring.

The parliament, elected in a first round vote in December along with Sunday's second round, forms part of Saied's redesigned political system that gives extensive powers to the presidency.

The president's political rivals had called for a boycott to the poll to avoid giving it legitimacy.

Saied hit back at critics late Monday, saying the turnout figures "need to be read differently".

"Ninety percent of Tunisians didn't vote because parliament doesn't mean anything to them any more... they no longer have faith in these institutions," he told Prime Minister Najla Bouden in a video posted on his office's Facebook page.

"The past 10 years made parliament into an institution that harmed the state... it was nothing like the parliament that Tunisians had dreamed of."

In July 2021, Saied froze the legislature, sacked the government and seized wide-ranging powers, in moves that were initially welcomed by some Tunisians tired of political parties seen as corrupt and ineffective.

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