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Tunisian Prime Minister Announces Cabinet Shakeup
Tunisian Prime Minister Elyes Fakhfekh, then minister of tourism, at a press conference in Tunis, January 5, 2012. (Tunisian Foreign Ministry/Creative Commons)

Tunisian Prime Minister Announces Cabinet Shakeup

Tunisia’s barely formed government appears headed for turbulent times after Prime Minister Elyes Fakhfakh abruptly announced on Monday he plans to make several changes to his cabinet. The move to reshuffle and appoint fresh faces comes in the midst of a brewing corruption scandal that has been dogging Fakhfakh for weeks, following the publication of a trove of documents linking the prime minster to companies that were awarded government deals. Fakhfakh has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing, vowing to resign if investigators indeed affirm the suspicions that he illegally pocketed $15 million. The cabinet shakeup is expected to leave the Islamist Ennahda party, a fixture in the Tunisian government ever since the 2011 revolution, powerless for the first time in nearly a decade. Until now, the party had managed to share power with its secular political rivals in what was a revolving door of cabinets and coalitions, but on Monday its ministers declared they will seek a new government altogether, claiming the prime minister had lost his credibility to lead the country. 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. While the Islamist Ennahda won a plurality of parliament seats, it eventually announced it would not enact Shariah law, instead maintaining secular code throughout the land.

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