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Tunisia's new interior minister: We will not allow anyone to harm the State's prestige

Tunisian Interior Minister Taoufik Charfeddine in Tunis, Tunisia on 6 November 2020 [Yassine Gaidi/Anadolu Agency]
Tunisian Interior Minister Taoufik Charfeddine in Tunis, Tunisia on 6 November 2020 [Yassine Gaidi/Anadolu Agency]

The new Tunisian Interior Minister, Taoufik Charfeddine, pledged on Sunday, not to allow "anyone to prejudice the prestige of the State", in light of a severe political crisis and widespread popular tension in the country since its president, Kais Saied, began making a series of exceptional decisions.

This came in a press statement by the minister while he was in the city of Kairouan (centre), where special celebrations to commemorate the Prophet's birthday (Monday) take place, which did not take place last year due to the spread of Covid-19.

Taoufik Charfeddine added that executing the law will take no exceptions, and eradicating terrorism and continuing to combat it by the security forces will be among the priorities of the ministry's work, which is closer than ever to end its presence in Tunisia."

He continued, "Imposition of security throughout Tunisia aims to spread tranquillity among citizens, and the Ministry of Interior will not allow anyone to harm the prestige of the State."

Charfeddine, who had been dismissed by Mechichi from the previous government on 5 January, is one of the ministers close to Saied, personally.

Mechichi did not give reasons for dismissing Charfeddine at the time, but media reports explained this as a decision to release a number of senior cadres of the Ministry of Interior, without informing the Prime Minister.

On 11 October, a new government headed by Najla Bouden was sworn in before Saied, becoming the first woman to hold this position in Arab countries.

READ: Tunisia's Ennahda rejects forming 'de facto government'

Since last 25 July, Saied began a series of exceptional decisions that includes: the dismissal of the Prime Minister, Hichem Mechichi; provided that he assume the executive authority with the assistance of a government that he appoints its president; suspending the powers of Parliament; lifting immunity of its deputies; abolishing the constitutionality control body; and issuing legislation by presidential decrees and headed by the Public Prosecution.

The majority of political forces reject Saied's decisions, and consider them a "coup against the constitution", while other forces support them, as a "course correction for the 2011 revolution", in light of the political and economic crises and the Covid-19 pandemic. This revolution overthrew the regime of then president, Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali (1987-2011).

On more than one occasion, Saied, who began a 5-year presidential term in 2019, said that his exceptional decisions are not a coup but, rather, measures within the framework of the Constitution to protect the State from an "imminent danger", according to his assessment.

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