Tunisia’s President Sacks Prime Minister Amid Economic Crisis

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In a surprise move on Tuesday, Tunisian President Kais Saied dismissed Prime Minister Najla Bouden from her position without providing any official explanation.

Tunisia’s President Sacks Prime Minister Amid Economic Crisis
Najla Bouden

The president swiftly appointed Ahmed Hachani as her replacement, as the country grapples with severe economic challenges.

According to Tunisia’s state news agency TAP, President Saied conducted the unexpected cabinet reshuffle, naming Ahmed Hachani as the new Prime Minister. Hachani, a former employee of Tunisia’s Finance Ministry and central bank, was sworn into office on Tuesday evening following his appointment.

Despite the lack of a stated reason for Prime Minister Bouden’s dismissal, critics have often labeled her as the “shadow of the president.” The move comes amid a growing wave of discontent in Tunisia over the prevailing food shortages, escalating prices, and the frequent long queues for bread, a staple commodity in the nation.

Tunisia is currently experiencing its most severe economic crisis in decades, marked by high unemployment rates. The country has also been a significant transit route for migrants attempting to reach Europe.

Last month, in an effort to address irregular migration, Tunisia and the European Union signed a bilateral deal that included an aid package. However, the $1.9-billion bailout loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) is still pending, adding further strain to the country’s economic woes.

President Saied has been at odds with the IMF over demanded reforms, fearing they could exacerbate the already precarious situation. He expressed concern that implementing the reforms might lead to an “explosion” with far-reaching consequences for Tunisia’s stability and the broader region.

It is worth noting that Prime Minister Najla Bouden made history in September 2021 when she became Tunisia’s first female prime minister. Her appointment followed a controversial period during which President Saied, a former law professor, unseated the previous prime minister and suspended the parliament, significantly expanding his own legislative and executive powers. These actions were met with opposition criticism, deeming them a “coup.”

As Tunisia undergoes this unexpected leadership transition, all eyes are on Ahmed Hachani to tackle the pressing economic challenges and steer the nation toward stability and prosperity. The international community also eagerly awaits the resolution of the IMF bailout negotiations, which could prove crucial in addressing Tunisia’s ongoing economic crisis.

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