Tunisian PM Removed By President, Future Unclear

07/27/2021 Tunisia (International Christian Concern) –  Tunisian President Kais Saied suspended parliament and removed Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi following violence, protests, and COVID-19 mismanagement. In the past 10 years since the Arab Spring revolutions across the Middle East, Tunisia has had nine different governments. The most recent move by President Saied has brought criticism from the majority-party Ennahda and others, while supporters celebrate the efforts to swiftly address major concerns.

PM Mechichi was appointed by President Saied, but the two quickly struggled to work together while Mechichi also had the support of the moderate Islamist party Ennahda. Under the 2014 constitution, the Tunisian President and PM split the responsibilities, with the president responsible for the military and foreign affairs. Following a botched execution of COVID-19 vaccinations that resulted in overwhelmed facilities, violence, and supply shortages, Mechichi fired the health minister, who also happened to be an ally of Saied. President Saied then mobilized the military to take over the COVID-19 management.

The Tunisian people elected President Saied in 2019, along with the parliament. Saied then appointed Mechichi as prime minister in August 2020. After the removal of Mechichi, Saied says he will rule alongside a new prime minister, citing Article 80 of the constitution and emergency crisis to justify the government freeze.

Ten years after the Arab Spring, Christians and other minorities question whether they are better off now than before. With continual upheaval and government instability, their vulnerability only increases. Under Tunisia’s revised constitution, Christians still face the potential for increased persecution and blasphemy. What the new government will look like is yet to be seen, but without a new prime minister appointed soon, the potential for a reversal in democracy is likely.

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