Tunisia assembly to back ousting of central bank governor: Sources

Reuters , Tuesday 17 Jul 2012

Former economy minister is expected to be appointed to the position, say local commentators

Tunisia's constituent assembly is expected to endorse on Tuesday a presidential decision to fire the central bank governor and will likely name former minister Chadli Ayari as his successor, political sources said.

President Moncef Marzouki's spokesman said last month that Tunisia's central bank Governor Mustafa Kamal al-Nabli would be sacked due to splits over economic policy. The decision, however, requires the approval of the elected assembly.

The assembly is due to hold a session to discuss Nabli's fate at 4 p.m. (1500 GMT) and political sources said it was likely to approve the decision and name Ayari as his successor.

Ayari, 75, was an economy minister under Tunisia's independence leader and late President Habib Bourguiba.

He worked as an economist for international organisations and is now an economic analyst.

The sources said Ayari was a consensus candidate who would push ahead with the government's planned banking sector reforms and speed up the repatriation of funds stashed abroad by Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali, who was overthown last year in a popular revolt that sparked the Arab Spring uprisings around the region.

Tunisia, struggling to emerge from recession, has held a steady course on inflation, interest and exchange rate, even in the turmoil that followed last year's revolution.

But tensions emerged in recent months between the government and the central bank over who has the last say in monetary policy.

The central bank is meant to be independent, but Nabli has accused the government of interfering in policy, dragging him into politics and thereby undermining confidence in the North African country's economy.

The country's growth has recovered this year, as have tourist numbers but the economy remains reliant on crisis-hit Europe for exports and remittances.

Tunisian debt insurance costs have risen by a quarter since the start of 2012, hitting three-year highs on Monday in a reflection of investor unease over political instability and slow economic recovery.

As the dispute took on increasingly political overtones, the three parties in the coalition government, led by the Islamist Ennahda party, said in May they were discussing Nabli's removal.

An academic who used to be chief Middle East economist of the World Bank, Nabli was appointed days after last year's revolution sparked upheavals that swept away veteran leaders in Egypt, Libya and Yemen.

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