Asharq Al-awsat English Middle-east and International News and Opinion from Asharq Al-awsat Newspaper

Tunisia Plans to Downsize the Government

Tunisia Plans to Downsize the Government

Saturday, 15 August, 2020 - 08:00
Tunisian President Kais Saied (R) and PM-designate Minister Hichem Mechichi at Carthage Palace. Reuters

Tunisian Premier-designate Hichem el-Mechichi has suggested that he wants to downsize the new cabinet by merging ministries, such as education and higher education, social affairs, vocational training, employment and environment, sources familiar with the government consultations said.

They told Asharq Al-awsat that Mechichi will keep a number of caretaker government members, including Imad al-Hazqi as Minister of National Defense.

Tunisian President Kais Saied is expected to assign advisor Othman al-Jerandi as Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation.

However, following ten days of consultations and as the constitutional deadline looms, it remains unclear how Mechichi will form the new government of independents.

He has lately met with economic experts and head of the Tunisian Syndicate of Private Broadcasts.

Meanwhile, a recent Sigma Conseil poll on parliamentary elections revealed that the Free Destourian Party, chaired by Abir Moussi, is 13.9 points ahead of Ennahda movement.

In the poll, 35.8 percent of the respondents said they’d vote for the Free Destourian Party, compared to 21.9 percent for Ennahda, 10 percent for Heart of Tunisia party, followed by 6.6 percent for the Democratic Current, 6.3 percent for the Dignity Coalition, and 5.7 percent for the People's Movement.

On the presidential elections, 65.1 percent said was in favor of Saied, compared to 8.1 percent for Moussi, followed by head of the Heart of Tunisia party Nabil Karoui (7.3 percent).

Meanwhile, a delegation led by Minister of Energy, Mining and Energy Transition Mongi Marzouk and Minister of Vocational Training and Employment Fathi Belhaj failed to reach an agreement with members of el-Kamour sit-in coordination in Tataouine.

The delegation left the meeting before it ended, and Marzouk announced that its outcome was “disappointing."

"We wanted, in this difficult period, to find a solution to el-Kamour agreement and for companies to contribute to the implementation of this deal," he said, according to TAP.

Members of the coordination committee voiced their disappointment at the offer made by the two ministers, considering that it does not meet their basic demands and the provisions of el-Kamour agreement, signed on June 16, 2017.

They said the government's treatment of the region's demands and the agreement "is not serious", and will not lead to the overall development of the region, nor does it meet the sacrifices made by the youth and martyrs of el-Kamour.

The committee also rejected the government’s offer of 250 jobs in oil companies over the next three years, as well as the creation of an agricultural enterprise to replace the recruitment of 500 workers in the Environment, Planting and Gardening Company, which will start implementing a new startegy from March 2021.

The proposal submitted by the two ministers, which was approved by the cabinet meeting on the implementation of el-Kamour agreement, provides for recruitment in oil companies according to a timetable that extends over the years 2021, 2022 and 2023, without providing precise figures.

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