Tunisian prime minister resigns as economic outlook worsens

21 February 2013

Hamad Jebali leaves post on the same day Standard & Poor’s downgrades Tunisia

Tunisia’s political and economic outlook worsened this week as the country suffered the dual ignominy of a ratings downgrade and the resignation of Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali.

Jebali’s resignation caps one of the more challenging months endured by post-revolutionary Tunisia, after the assassination of left-wing opposition figure Chokri Belaid on 6 February.

Infighting within the ruling coalition government led by the moderate Islamist Ennahda party has left the country in a state of political and economic uncertainty, while a deadline for an agreement on a new constitution has long-since passed.

In announcing his decision to step down on 19 February, Jebali said: “Our people are disillusioned by the political class. We must restore confidence.”

On the same day, Standard & Poor’s (S&P) announced it was downgrading Tunisia’s credit rating from BB to BB- as a result of the country’s ongoing political instability.

The US ratings agency warned that economic growth was unlikely to improve beyond the 2.4 per cent expansion reported in 2012.

“We expect lower tourism receipts, combined with a widening trade deficit, to result in current account deficits that will remain in excess of 5 per cent of GDP [gross domestic product] through 2016,” S&P said in a statement.

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