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Tunisia: Conflict of interest threatens Fakhfakh’s government

July 2, 2020 at 3:00 am

Tunisian President Kais Saied (R) and Tunisian former Finance Minister Elyes Fakhfakh (L) hold a meeting after Fakhfakh received the letter of tasking from Saied to form new government at the Carthage Palace in Tunis, Tunisia on 21 January 2020. [Tunisian Presidency / Handout – Anadolu Agency]

Tunisia’s Good Governance and Anti-Corruption Commission confirmed the existence of a conflict of interest relating to Prime Minister Elyes Fakhfakh, due to his ownership of shares in companies that deal with the state commercially, which is prohibited by law.

Chair of the commission Chawki Tabib disclosed in a closed hearing session of the Administrative Reform and Anti-Corruption Committee in parliament that Prime Minister Fakhfakh did not inform the commission of the details of his shares in five companies, some of which concluded commercial deals with the state.

Tabib noted at the hearing session, which was devoted to discussing accusations against the prime minister, that the commission will implement the law forbidding Fakhfakh to engage in commercial activity in his position as prime minister. Tabib explained that Fakhfakh revealed details of the companies that he owns following his appointment as prime minister on 27 February, and noted that he owns shares in five companies, yet his statement did not mention that all or some companies deal with the state commercially.

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Tabib reported that the commission received two notices from an MP and another anonymous official, which included accusations against the prime minister of suspicion of corruption, conflict of interest, exploitation of influence, money laundering and illicit enrichment.

“The earnings declaration law in Article 18 requires Fakhfakh to refer the disposal of his shares in these companies to another person within two months of assuming his duties, but he has not done so to this day. This is a situation that violates the law and the constitution, and this data has not been reported to us until 25 June through a letter from him,” clarified Tabib.

He called on Fakhfakh to relinquish his shares in the companies, in implementation of the provisions of the law that prohibits the prime minister from engaging in commercial dealings with the state.

This comes while Head of the Shura Council of Tunisia’s Ennahda Movement Abdelkarim Harouni asserted that the proof of accusations of conflict of interest against the prime minister will lead to the fall of the government and the need to resort to the formation of a new one, according to German news agency DPA.