Essid returns to cabinet negotiations

01 February 2015

Tunisia prime minister’s first proposal for cabinet rejected

Tunisia’s Prime Minister Habib Essid has restarted negotiations over the composition of the new cabinet, after his first proposal was rejected by opposition political parties.

Following heavy criticism of the proposed cabinet, it was not put to a vote of confidence in the Assembly of People’s Representatives (ARP).

The proposed cabinet included seven members of Nidaa Tounes, which holds 86 seats out of 217 in the ARP. Three members of allied party the Free Patriotic Union (UPL), which has 16 seats, were also named.

A parliamentary majority is needed to approve the cabinet, but Nidaa Tounes and the UPL fall short by seven votes. After Islamist party Ennahda (69 seats) and the Popular Front (15 seats) rejected the cabinet, Essid would have had to rely on the support of fragmented smaller parties.

According to the constitution, which was ratified in 2014, the prime minister has until 5 February to gain approval for a cabinet. A one-month extension can be granted to Essid. If he fails to form a government by 5 March, a different prime minister will be appointed, who will have one month to form a government. As a last resort, new elections can be called.

The revised cabinet is likely to have some of the same members. The participation of Ennahda remains the most controversial question.

Follow Philippa Wilkinson on Twitter: @Philippa_MEED

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