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Tunisia Braces for Political Uncertainty as Prime Minister Resigns

Tunisian Prime Minister Elyes Fakhfakh abruptly resigned his post [1] on Wednesday, barely seven months after being appointed to the position following an undecided election. The move comes just ahead of a vote of no confidence that was to be introduced in parliament in the coming days and seemed to be gathering steam. Following his dramatic announcement Wednesday, the prime minister dismissed any notion that his resignation was hastened by his potential ousting by parliament, explaining that the decision was made “in the national interest … and in order to uphold the principle of moralization of political life.” On Monday, Fakhfakh announced he plans merely to reshuffle his cabinet, vowing to resign only if investigators confirm the accusations that he illegally pocketed $15 million through shares held in companies that were awarded state contracts. But after Ennahda, the moderate Islamist party, declared it would support the motion to remove him from office, the prime minister’s political options became severely limited. Tunisia is considered the poster child for post-Arab Spring democracy-building. The first country to see mass protests against its repressive regime, it conducted what Western observers deemed free and fair elections in 2011 after longtime President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali’s resignation and bolting.