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Tunisia's parliament approves cabinet reshuffle

New cabinet is seen as a victory for Prime Minister Youssef Chahed, who has recently been under pressure from his political opponents
Chahed named 10 new cabinet ministers in a move he hopes will boost the economy (Reuters)

The Tunisian parliament has approved a cabinet reshuffle proposed by Prime Minister Youssef Chahed last week as part of his effort to stem a political and economic crisis in the North African country.

The approval is widely seen as a victory for Chahed, who has faced pressure from his political opponents, including his own former party, the ruling Nidaa Tounes, to step down over his government's inability to revive the Tunisian economy.

Chahed named 10 new ministers on 5 November as part of the cabinet reshuffle, including Jewish businessman Rene Trabelsi, who will become Tunisia's new minister of tourism. Trabelsi is only the third Jewish Tunisian to enter the cabinet since the country declared independence in 1956.

A former foreign minister under Tunisia's longtime president Zine el Abidine Ben Ali, Kamel Morjan became minister in charge of the public service, Tunisia's main employer.

Tunisian PM reshuffles cabinet to boost troubled economy
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"Since two years we were working under random shelling from friendly fire," Chahed said in a speech in parliament on Monday.

"We have not found political support for the reforms and in the fight against corruption. This is no longer possible as we want clarity to move forward in reviving the economy and ending the political crisis," he said.

Chahed has been in a dispute with Nidaa Tounes leader Hafedh Caid Essebsi, who is also the president's son. He has accused Chahed of failing to tackle high inflation, unemployment and other problems.

President Beji Caid Essebsi originally rejected the cabinet reshuffle, saying he had been informed too late about it without prior consultation. However, he didn't have enough support in parliament to block it from passing a vote.

Tunisia has been hailed for its democratic transition since a revolution in 2011 toppled longtime leader Ben Ali, but the country has been hit by an economic crisis and militant attacks since then.