Tunisian parliament rejects government of Habib Jemli

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Tunis

Tunisia’s parliament Friday rejected the government proposed by Prime Minister-designate Habib Jemli after months of negotiations between political parties to fill positions.
Jemli, an independent, was nominated by the Islamist-inspired Ennahdha party after it came out top in legislative polls in October but failed to win enough seats to form a majority in the 217-seat chamber.
Deputies voted 134 to 72 against Jemli’s proposed government of independent figures due to “frictions” between the parties over political appointments.
President Kais Saied now has 10 days to choose a new prime minister-designate who will attempt to put together a government acceptable to the assembly.
An agricultural engineer by training, Jemli served as secretary of state at the agriculture ministry from 2011 to 2014 under Ennahdha prime ministers Hamadi Jebali and Ali Larayedh.
Ennahdha said its choice was “based on a person known for his competence, integrity and experience in administration”.
The vote is a big setback for Ennahdha, which has been directly or indirectly in power for a good part of the last nine years and it risks delaying reforms needed to revive the stuttering economy.
Illustrating the difficulties for the divided political class to form a strong and consensual government, Ennahdha had admitted Thursday to having “reservations” over the team presented by its own candidate.
Elected anti-Islamist Abir Moussi said: “We will not give our confidence to a government of Ennahdha and the Muslim Brotherhood.”
Other lawmakers questioned the competence of certain ministers. Qalb Tounes, the party of television boss and defeated presidential candidate Nabil Karoui and the second biggest in parliament with 38 seats, deplored the lack of independence and the programme of the proposed cabinet.
Observers and members of civil society had castigated the appointment of magistrates regarded as pro-Ennahdha to head key ministries such as justice and the interior.—AFP