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Tunisia: Republican Party resigns from the government

Tunisian members of parliament discuss the economic reconciliation law during a parliament session at Tunisian Parliament in Tunis, Tunisia on 13 September 2017 [Nacer Talel/Anadolu Agency]

The Tunisian Republican Party announced, Monday, that it is leaving the government of Youssef Chahed and accepting the resignation of Iyad Dahmani from its political body.

The secretary-general of the party, Issam Chebbi, stated the reasons of the withdrawal to the impossibility of working within a government which is under pressure from an influential group in Nidaa Tounes.

Chebbi said: “We refuse to participate in a government led by Hafedh Caid Essebsi.”

He added: “We are afraid that Kasbah (the government) would succumb to the pressures of Lake of Tunis (Nidaa Tounes) and Montplaisir (Ennahdha) or else it would be toppled.”

Chebbi stressed that:

This decision is due to a number of reasons, including the government’s position in favour of the administrative reconciliation law, and the practice of Nidaa Tounes, which leads the coalition government, of what he described as pressures on Iyad Dahmani, the spokesman for the government and a member of the Tunisian Republican Party, when obliging him to choose between his membership in the party or his position in the government.

On Saturday, Dahmani handed over his resignation from the Tunisian Republican Party without explaining the reasons, and the party announced it accepted the resignation.

Read: Increase in number of Tunisians seeking to leave

The recent period witnessed tension in the relations between the Tunisian Republican Party and the leaders of Nidaa Tounes in light of party’s opposition to the law of administrative reconciliation and its participation in protests that demanded the cancelling this law.

It is noteworthy that the Tunisian Republican Party is represented in the Tunisian Assembly of the Representatives of the People with one parliamentary seat out of a total of 217 seats in the Assembly.

The government of Youssef Chahed consists of a group of parties:

  • Nidaa Tounes Movement Party (58 MPs / 217);
  • seven ministers and five Secretaries of State;
  • Ennahdha Movement Party (69 MPs);
  • four ministers, three Secretaries of State;
  • Afek Tounes Party (10 MPs);
  • two ministers and two Secretaries of State;
  • three ministers and two Secretaries of State from the Social Democratic Path Party (left wing);
  • National Destourian Initiative Party (one constitutional – three MPs);
  • the Tunisian Republican Party (one MP); and
  • Machrouu Tounes Movement Party (24 MPs)

The government of Chahed also includes a number of figures that are close to or supported by national organisations, the Tunisian General Labour Union (the largest trade union in the country) and the Tunisian Union of Agriculture and Fishery (Farmers Union), along with nine independent ministers and three independent Secretaries of State.

Read: Tunisia grants amnesty to officials accused of corruption

At the end of the last month, the Tunisian presidency announced that President Beji Caid Essebsi had signed a reconciliation law with government officials. With that, he gave the sign that the controversial law has become into force.

On September 13, the Tunisian parliament voted by majority in favour of an administrative reconciliation bill with 1,000 government employees who are suspected of “financial corruption” and “misuse of public funds.”

The reconciliation law was rejected by Tunisian opposition forces, which, in mid-September, appealed 35 MPs (out of a total of 217 MPs) to the Interim Commission of Monitoring the Constitutionality of Laws.

However, the Commission has failed to appeal against the reconciliation law and referred it to the President of the Republic to be approved and published in the Official Journal of the Republic of Tunisia (JORT), or to be referred back to the parliament for reconsideration, as provided by the law.

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