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Tunisian President Kais Saied and new Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi, at the Carthage Palace in Tunis Tunisian President Kais Saied, right, and the new prime minister, Hichem Mechichi, at the Carthage Palace outside Tunis, Tunisia, July 25, 2020 (Photo by Slim Abid for Tunisian Presidency via AP Images).

Can a New Prime Minister Finally End Tunisia’s Political Tumult?

Friday, Aug. 14, 2020

Following the resignation of Elyes Fakhfakh as prime minister of Tunisia in mid-July, amid corruption allegations and after just five months in office, President Kais Saied designated one of his own advisers, Hichem Mechichi, as the new prime minister. Mechichi has until Aug. 25 to form a government that can win parliamentary approval. Should he fail, Saied has the constitutional right to call for new elections—an arduous task, particularly as Tunisia struggles with a deepening economic crisis and a spike in COVID-19 cases triggered by reopening the country’s borders in late June.

Before he even takes office, Mechichi faces several hurdles, the biggest of which is cobbling together a government that simultaneously appeases enough of Tunisia’s political parties to be approved by parliament, but does not appear too partisan or vest too much power in any one group. This is a particular challenge given that the current parliament is the most fractured in Tunisia’s history, with no party holding even one-quarter of the seats. ...

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