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Conflict of Interest Haunts Tunisia’s PM

Conflict of Interest Haunts Tunisia’s PM

Thursday, 25 June, 2020 - 09:30
Tunisia's Prime Minister Elyes Fakhfakh speaks during a handover ceremony in Tunis, Tunisia February 28, 2020. REUTERS/Zoubeir Souissi

Tunisian Prime Minister Elyes Fakhfakh faces accusations of exploiting his position in government to achieve personal gains as the parliament is gearing up to grill him in a plenary session.

Local dailies dealt with a scandal known as the ‘Fakhfakh Gate’, after documents were leaked exposing the PM committed a grave violation.

A wave of accusations targeted Fakhfakh after it was revealed that he is a shareholder in a private company which won a public tender.

This forced the PM to abandon his shares in the company, but his move wasn’t seen enough because it had already won a bid worth $15.4 million.

Despite that Fakhfakh had relinquished his shares in all companies dealing with the state because it places him at a conflict of interest, calls for holding him accountable persisted. The opposition and some political parties are calling for investigation into how Fakhfakh had benefited from those dealings.

Democratic bloc lawmaker Nabil Hajji demanded that the premier resigns should there be evidence that he personally benefited from his place in government and that he violated the law.

Hajji called for the counter corruption committee in parliament to open an investigation into the matter.

Independent lawmaker Yassine al-Ayari published a document showing that Fakhfakh is a capital investor in a company that won two government bids.

Ayari wrote to Mohammed Abbou, the state minister responsible for counter corruption, questioning about the conflict of interest and illicit enrichment Fakhfakh is being tied to.

Abbou, for his part, ordered assigning a competent supervisory body to investigate the charges against the prime minister and to extend a report to parliament as soon as possible. He also ordered a copy of all contracts signed with companies involving Fakhfakh.

Ayari stressed that the law requires the prime minister to give up any other responsibility before assuming his official duties, and to instruct others to dispose of his shares, within a maximum period of 60 days after he assumed office.

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