Tunisian Prime Minister-designate Hichem Mechichi on Tuesday announced the country's second government in just six months. A new executive that must seek the approval of parliamentarians displeased with the way the administration was formed.
Hichem Mechichi declared in advance his intention to form a cabinet led by independent technocrats with the ability to "present urgent solutions" needed for a country where a weakened economy has been hit even harder by the coronavirus pandemic.
The former interior minister's decision to avoid certain consultations with political factions stirred up the mood, particularly in the influential Ennahda Islamist party, which has demanded a "political" government that reflects the balance of power in parliament.
But Ennahda, the party with the greatest parliamentary weight, and other parties also spoke of the need to give the government certain support in order to avoid dragging the country, which is already affected by the crisis, into early elections, which would mean more instability.
Mechichi told journalists that he had decided to form a new cabinet made up of "independent experts", with only a few outgoing ministers from the previous executive included on the list.
Mechichi, 46, is the third head of government appointed since last October's elections, which resulted in a parliament divided between deeply antagonistic blocs, with a strong clash, particularly between Ennahda, with its conservative Islamist stance, and other formations such as Abir Moussi's Free Destury Party.
Precisely, Ennahda, led by Rached Ghannouchi, president of the Tunisian parliament, is noted for his questionable conservative and radical Islamist drift and for his links with dangerous elements on the international scene such as Qatar and the Muslim Brothers. The Gulf monarchy has been under an embargo since 2017 decreed by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain following the accusation made against the Qatari state for allegedly supporting cross-border terrorism. For its part, the Muslim Brotherhood, which is also closely linked to the Arab country led by Emir Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, is considered a terrorist group by several Western nations.
The political stagnation resulting from the recent elections further hindered an incipient democracy, which was initiated by a revolution carried out ten years ago against the authoritarian rule of Zinedin el Abedine Ben Ali. Since those Arab springs, regional inequalities have been combated, in a scenario now worsened by the COVID-19 health crisis.+
Ennahda won the largest number of seats in last year's elections, but did not achieve a majority and finally agreed to join a coalition government.
The new Mechichi Executive is now made up of independent and technocratic people, as the Prime Minister himself pointed out. Among the names that make up this team are Leila Jafal, Ahmed Azza, Fawzi al-Mahdi, Aqsa al-Bahri, Fathi al-Salouti, Habib Ammar, Salwa al-Saghir, Mustafa al-Alawi, Imam Hoimel, Mohammed al-Trabelsi, Kamal Daqish, Mohammed Bou Said, Walid al-Zaidi and Olfa bin Odeh.
Following this move, Parliament is ready to vote on the government team proposed by Mechichi within the next ten days.