Posted by Richard Willet Posted on 29 August 2020

Tunisia To Bypass Politicians, Appoint Technocrats Instead

Tunisian Prime Minister-Designate Hichem Mechichi has proposed a cabinet of technocrats without allegiance to any political parties, in an effort to solve an impasse in the country’s politics.

Mechichi barely met the deadline to present his new cabinet. A press briefing at midnight on Monday ensured his cabinet was submitted just before the deadline on Tuesday.

Technocratic government

Mechichi has attempted to circumvent Tunisia’s entrenched political divisions by proposing a cabinet of technocrats with no representation from any political parties. In the midnight press briefing, he stated that he aimed to use a non-political cabinet to accelerate economic development and improve social support for Tunisians.

Mechichi’s proposed cabinet is the second cabinet under consideration in six months. Former Prime Minister Elyas Fakhfakh resigned following a scandal over a conflict of interest with his business ties, leading President Kais Saied to appoint Mechichi as the new prime minister.

The newly-proposed cabinet needs to win a vote of confidence from Tunisia’s divided parliament. Without a positive result, President Saied would be forced to order a dissolution of parliament and new elections, which would present a new blow to Tunisia’s post-2011 democratic process.

Difficult challenge

The cabinet presented on Monday night would consist of 28 members, 8 of whom are women. The cabinet would streamline three economic ministries into a single body led by Ali Kooli, the current Tunisian CEO of the Bahraini Arab Banking Corporation.

Mechichi’s gamble to sideline Tunisia’s bickering political parties could backfire as parliament has a final say on the proposed cabinet.

The Republican Popular Union (UPR) stated on Monday that it would not support a technocratic government in principle. The UPR argued that such a government would “circumvent the principles of the second Republic and the people’s will,” according to the Tunisian Press Agency (TAP.)

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