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Tunisia: Ghannouchi says president cannot refuse MP appointments

February 1, 2021 at 12:13 pm

Rached Ghannouchi, head of the Ennahda Movement in Tunis, Tunisia on January 12, 2021 [Yassine Gaidi/Anadolu Agency]

Tunisia’s president does not have a right to approve or refuse the appointment of government ministers as his role is “symbolic”, Parliament Speaker Rached Ghannouchi said on Saturday.

President Kais Saied has said that he will not allow new ministers to take their oath of office after a vote of confidence was granted to them in Parliament on 26 January due to reservations about some of the approved government members who were nominated by Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi.

The current political impasse threatens to cause an unprecedented constitutional crisis in the country.

“The president refuses to allow the new team of ministers to swear their oath of office, and therefore he rejects the ministerial reshuffle,” said Ghannouchi in a virtual interview on Zoom.

“The president believes that he has the right to accept the appointment of some ministers and reject others. This is the problem of mixing up between the presidential and parliamentary systems.”

In its 2014 constitution, Tunisia adopted a revised parliamentary system that grants the prime minister, who is nominated by the ruling party, broad executive powers.

The President of the Republic is directly elected by the people, but his powers are mainly limited to matters of defence, national security, and foreign policy.

Ghannouchi, leader of the Ennahda Movement, which won the 2019 elections, stated: “We have a parliamentary system and the president’s role is symbolic, and not constructive. The issue of governance and the cabinet belong to the ruling party and are primarily the responsibility of the prime minister.”

PM Mechichi, who has been leading a technocratic government since September, was appointed by the president according to the constitution due to the parties’ failure to agree on a candidate to head the government within constitutional deadlines.

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