Tunisia's New Government
- On July 25, 2021, Tunisian protesters took to the streets, calling for the removal of Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi and the halt of parliament. Their disapproval stemmed from a poor COVID-response, a collapsing healthcare system, and consequential economic problems, including high unemployment rates and fewer state services.
- That day, President Kais Saied responded by suspending parliament, as well as the immunity of parliamentary members, and removing the Prime Minister. Saied cited Article 80 of the Tunisian constitution to legally validate his decision making, which states: “The President of the Republic, in a state of imminent danger threatening the integrity of the country and the country’s security and independence, is entitled to take the measures necessitated by this exceptional situation.”
- Throughout the following two months, President Saied continued to dismiss members of government. In some cases, such as that of Chawki Tabib, Tunisia’s former Anti-Corruption Committee head, Saied did not follow constitutional procedures. In this instance, Saied did not provide a copy of the justified order prior to placing Tabib under house arrest.
- On September 11, 2021, President Saied stated his desire and alleged ability to unilaterally amend the 2014 Tunisian constitution.
New Government Approved:
- On September 29, President Saied appointed Najla Bouden Romdhane, an engineer and geology professor, as the country’s new prime minister.
- On October 11, Saied approved Romdhane’s new government selections, which include several familiar faces, such as:
- Interior Minister Taoufik Charfeddine: previously interior minister, but dismissed by Hichem Mechichi in January of 2021; an ally of Saied
- Foreign Minister Othman Jerandi: previously serving as interim foreign minister
- Finance Minister Sihem Boughdiri: previously serving as interim finance minister
- Justice Minister Leila Jaffel: previously minister of state properties and land affairs under the Hichem Mechichi government
- However, Saied’s recent “rule by decree” leadership raises concerns regarding the authority the new prime minister will actually be granted and if the new government will be able to operate with independence.