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Tunisia's prime minister designate unveils new technocratic government

Hichem Mechichi must gain approval for his new cabinet in the next 10 days or face another election
Tunisia's Prime Minister-designate Hichem Mechichi (L) presenting his cabinet list for Tunisian President Kais Saied (R) in Carthage palace on 24 August 2020 (Tunisia presidency/AFP)

Tunisia's prime minister-designate on Tuesday announced his cabinet of independent technocrats, the second in six months, as he seeks to distance the government from political conflicts.

Hichem Mechichi said he planned to introduce a cabinet of technocrats with no political affiliation in a bid to focus on Tunisia's ailing economy, which has been exacerbated by the coronavirus. 

Under plans to overhaul the government and revitalise the economy, Mechichi joined the ministries of finance, investment and economy into a single department led by liberal economist Ali Kooli, CEO of Arab Banking Corporation (ABC Bank) in Tunisia. 

The prime minister needs to seek Parliament's approval for his government in the next ten days or potentially face another election. But political factions within the Tunisian parliament disapproved of how he appointed his technocratic government as it bypassed consultations with the different groups.

The powerful Ennahda party in Tunisia demanded that Mechichi form a "political" government to reflect the make up of the country's parliament. 

But despite its frustrations with how the cabinet was appointed, Ennahda and other parties in Tunisia said they will approve the government to protect the country's economy.

Widespread unemployment, lack of investments, poor public services, including healthcare, electricity and water, have led to constant protests, which authorities have been struggling to defuse.

Earlier this month, Mechichi said his government would focus on rescuing public finances and easing social hardships, saying that while political turmoil had dragged out, "some Tunisians have not found drinking water".

Mechichi is an independent member of the Tunisian parliament and served as Tunisia's interior minister under former prime minister Elyes Fakhkfakh.  

Tunisian President Kais Saied appointed Mechichi last month to lead the government after Fakhkfakh resigned over allegations of conflict of interest.