Tunisian President swears in new ministers after multiple sackings

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Tunisian President Kais Saied swore in new education and agriculture ministers on Tuesday, January 31st.

Saied on Monday sacked the former ministers, Fethi Sellaouti and Elyes Hamza respectively, a day after Tunisia’s second-round vote for its neutered parliament saw just 11.4 per cent of registered voters take part.

On Tuesday, he was seen swearing in the ministerial replacements, Mohamed Ali Boughdiri to education and Abdelmomen Belati to agriculture, in videos posted on the presidency’s Facebook page.

Tunisia has faced mounting economic woes in recent months, with repeated strikes by teachers and transportation workers along with shortages of basic goods, including milk, as farmers struggle to pay for fodder.

The resulting public discontent has put growing pressure on Saied, a year and a half after his dramatic power grab swept away the parliament born out of Tunisia’s 2011 pro-democracy revolt which sparked the Arab Spring.

The parliament, elected in a first round vote in December along with Sunday’s second round, forms part of Saied’s redesigned political system that gives extensive powers to the presidency.

The president’s political rivals had called for a boycott to the poll to avoid giving it legitimacy.

Saied hit back at critics late Monday, saying the turnout figures “need to be read differently”.

“Ninety per cent of Tunisians didn’t vote because parliament doesn’t mean anything to them any more… they no longer have faith in these institutions,” he told Prime Minister Najla Bouden in a video posted on his office’s Facebook page.