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Tunisian President to nominate new cabinet in a week after Jemli’s rejection2 minutes read

President Saied is to nominate another candidate and if he also fails to form a government, the next step would be dissolution of the assembly.

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Tunisian President Kais Saied./thearabweekly

President Kais Saied has about a week left to choose a new prime minister-designate who will attempt to put together a government acceptable to the assembly after the rejection of former Prime Minister-designate, Habib Jemli.

Tunisia’s parliament had on Friday rejected the government proposed by Prime Minister-designate Jemli after months of negotiations between political parties to fill positions, an AFP report said.

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.

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.

The constitution stipulates that if the prime minister-designate fails to receive parliamentary assent for his government, the president will launch talks with political parties and parliamentary blocs to mandate someone else to form an administration.

President Saied, who was also elected in October, has no natural allies in the chamber and there is little sign of possible alliances to form a new government coalition.

If Saied’s candidate also fails to form a government, the next step would be dissolution of the assembly, risking further delays to measures needed to curb inflation and unemployment.

In 2016 the International Monetary Fund approved a four-year, $3 billion loan for Tunisia in return for major reforms, some of which are disputed.

Due to delays, the country has only received about $1.6 billion so far, while the facility ends in April and the first repayments are due in November.

Since the 2011 revolution that toppled long-ruling president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, Tunisia has been trying to revive a struggling economy but unemployment continues to affect the population, especially the young, and inflation is eroding an already low purchasing power.

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North Africa

Libyan GNA government suspends talks with Haftar forces after Tripoli port attack

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A Libyan oil worker walks infront of smoke rising from an oil facility in northern Libya's Ras Lanouf region on January 23, 2016, after it was set ablaze ealier in the week following fresh attacks launched by Islamic State (IS) group jihadists to seize key port terminals. - Firefighters battled the blaze at the oil facility for a third day, an official said, after an assault by jihadists aiming to seize export terminals. (Photo by STRINGER / AFP)

Libya’s internationally recognized government on Tuesday suspended talks hosted by the United Nations to halt warfare over the capital after eastern forces shelled Tripoli’s port, killing three people and almost hitting a highly explosive gas tanker.

The U.N. has been hosting in Geneva ceasefire talks between officers from the Tripoli government and the eastern-based Libya National Army (LNA), led by commander Khalifa Haftar. The two factions have been trying to take the capital in a near year-long campaign, displacing at least 150,000 people.

The talks had been agreed by foreign powers backing rival parties at a summit in Germany a month ago, an event that has not halted a war cutting oil exports by 1 million barrels a day, a Reuters report said.

Western countries have largely watched passively as Libya fell apart since helping remove Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, opening the door for regional powers such as the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Turkey to back rival camps fighting for control.

The LNA on Tuesday shelled Tripoli port, saying first it had attacked a Turkish vessel bringing weapons but saying later it had hit an arms depot. Three civilians were killed and five wounded, the Tripoli forces said.

The attack came just as the U.S. ambassador Richard Norland was visiting Haftar in the first trip of a U.S. envoy to eastern Libya since the killing of the U.S. ambassador in a raid blamed on an Islamist militia in 2012.

In response to the LNA attack, the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord said in a statement it suspended its participation in ceasefire talks “until firm responses are taken against the attacker, and we will respond firmly to the attack in appropriate timing.”

 “Negotiations don’t mean anything without permanent ceasefire guarantees returning the displaced people and the security of the capital and the other cities,” it added.

Tripoli port is a major gateway for food, fuel, wheat and other imports for the capital, which is home to the internationally recognized government. Heavy artillery fire could be heard at night.

PORT STRIKE

State oil firm NOC said it had urgently evacuated all fuel tankers from the port after a missile struck meters away “from a highly explosive liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) tanker discharging in the port”.

“The city does not have operational fuel storage facilities … the consequences will be immediate; hospitals, schools, power stations and other vital services will be disrupted,” NOC Chairman Mustafa Sanalla said in a statement.

Since January, Turkey has sent several ships carrying arms and heavy trucks to Tripoli and Misrata, another western port allied to the Tripoli government, diplomats say. It has also sent fighters from Syria’s civil war to defend Tripoli.

The LNA is allied to a parallel government in eastern Libya supported by the UAE, Egypt, Jordan and Russian mercenaries. France has also given some support.

Eastern ports and airports are out of range of the Tripoli forces and its Turkish drones.

Tuesday’s attack on the port unfolded as officers from the Tripoli forces and the LNA held a second round of indirect talks in Geneva to establish a permanent ceasefire. Both sides refused again to sit in the same room, U.N. Libya envoy Ghassan Salame said.

Salame added that he had received conditions from tribesmen allied to eastern forces to lift a blockade of eastern oil export ports, but said these were quite general and would have to be fleshed out in more U.N.-led talks in Geneva next week.

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Business News

Maroc Telecom reports $620 million profit

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Maroc Telecom, Morocco’s largest telecoms operator, has reported an adjusted profit of $620 million in 2019.


The result was achieved on the back of higher mobile data activity in Morocco and in African subsidiaries, according to the company.


The Telecoms total revenue grew by 1.3% to $3.76 billion.
The company says its customer base rose from 11.1% to 67.5 million citing a growth in demand for its mobile broadband and landlines in Morocco.


Maroc Telecom also says it will pay a dividend of 5.54 dirhams per share, totalling 4.9 billion dirhams.
Maroc Telecom, which is listed on the Casablanca Stock Exchange and Euronext Paris, is 53% controlled by the UAE’s Etisalat, with the Moroccan state owning 22%.


It operates subsidiaries in Benin, Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, Gabon, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Chad, Togo and the Central African Republic.

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North Africa

Tunisian PM submits list of cabinet nominees, awaits parliamentary approval

PM-designate Fakhfakh submitted a list of cabinet nominees to President Kais Saied, with Nizar Yaich as finance minister, Nourredine Erray as foreign minister and Imed Hazgui as defence minister.

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Tunisian President Kais Saied in parliament./AFP


Tunisian prime minister-designate, Elyes Fakhfakh on Saturday proposed the line-up of a new government and then said negotiations would continue after the Ennahda party, the biggest in parliament, rejected it with fears of a new election beckoning.

The proposed government must be approved by the deeply fragmented parliament in two weeks or there will be a new election, a Reuters report said.

Fakhfakh submitted a list of cabinet nominees to President Kais Saied, with Nizar Yaich as finance minister, Nourredine Erray as foreign minister and Imed Hazgui as defence minister.

But with the largest parties either opposed to his coalition or unenthusiastic about its composition, Fakhfakh may struggle to gain the strong parliamentary majority needed for any significant political programme.

The moderate Islamist Ennahda party, with 53 seats, said it would only join a unity government that brings together parties from across Tunisia’s political spectrum.

“This decision will put the country in a difficult situation,” Fakhfakh said in speech.

Heart of Tunisia, the second biggest party with 38 seats, also said it would not back the government after Fakhfakh excluded it from the coalition.

Tunisia faces a series of long-term economic challenges which threaten to undermine public trust in the young democracy, and which demand political decisions that could be unpopular.

Since the 2011 revolution, unemployment has been high and growth low, while the government has sunk further into debt with a series of big budget deficits that foreign lenders demand it bring under control.

Elections in September and October returned Saied, a political independent, as president, and a parliament in which Ennahda held fewer than a quarter of the seats.

Ennahda’s nominee for prime minister, Habib Jemli, proposed a coalition government that was rejected by parliament in a confidence vote last month, giving Saied the chance to ask his own candidate, Fakhfakh, to form a cabinet.

If Fakhfakh’s proposal is also rejected by parliament next week, a new parliamentary election must follow within three months.

Fakhfakh had already promised to name a government that would draw only from parties he considered aligned with the goals of the revolution and committed to rooting out corruption.

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