Tunisia leader fires ambassador to US in rash of dismissals

Aneela SiddiquiWeb Editor

04th Aug, 2021. 02:57 pm

President Kais Saied has fired Tunisia’s ambassador to the United States and the governor of a key province.

On July 25, Saied dismissed the prime minister and suspended parliament for 30 days in a series of unexpected measures. He also began ruling by decree, dismissing numerous officials and announcing a corruption sweep.

The removal of Ambassador Nejmeddine Lakhal was reported by official media on Tuesday, with no reason given. The governor of the eastern province of Sfax was also removed. It came a day after the economy ministry got a new acting minister on Monday, following the dismissal of Ali Kooli, as did the communications technology ministry.

According to local surveys, Saied’s controversial actions, which were condemned as a “coup” by the country’s main political parties— a charge the president disputed – had a lot of popularity.

Long described as the only success story to emerge from those chaotic times, Tunisia is currently facing growing economic, social, and health crises, with citizens seeing their living standards plummeting and the coronavirus pandemic overwhelming its hospitals.

Saied, using an article in the constitution that permits a president to intervene in dire situations, Saied claims he did so to rescue the country.

Western allies have been rattled by the unrest, but a number of regional nations, particularly Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, have expressed confidence in and support for Tunisia’s government.

Also on Tuesday, Saied held a meeting with the foreign minister of Egypt, a critical ally in the Middle East. In his meeting with Sameh Shoukry, the president highlighted “the correlation between Egypt’s and Tunisia’s security and stability”, the official TAP news agency said.

Egypt’s envoy said President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi backed Saied’s moves with “his full support for the historic steps” of the Tunisian leader, TAP added.

After the meeting, the foreign minister of Egypt and Tunisia said, “Egypt and Tunisia are working together to maintain stability not only in the two countries but also across the region.”

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