Tunisian parliament dismisses Prime Minister Habib Essid

Tunisian Prime Minister Habib Essid has been dismissed after 18 months in office following a no-confidence ballot in parliament on Saturday. Essid had been under fire for a lack of progress on a financial reforms package to create growth and jobs.

Photo by: AFP
Photo by: AFP

Tunisian Prime Minister Habib Essid delivers a speech at the Tunisian Parliament on July 30, 2016 in the capital Tunis.

Updated Jul 31, 2016

Tunisian Prime Minister Habib Essid on Saturday lost a confidence vote in parliament, after just a year and a half in office, clearing the way for a new government that must push through delayed economic reforms.

Out of 217 MPs overall, 191 were present for the vote. A total of 118 MPs voted to unseat Essid, three voted for him to stay at the helm of the North African nation and 27 abstained.

Essid, a technocrat in office less than two years, had been under fire for failing to tackle the country’s economic crisis, high unemployment and a series of terrorist attacks.

President Beji Caid Essebsi has also called for a new unity government to speed up reforms.

Ahead of the vote, MPs earlier on Saturday praised Essid for his "integrity" but also criticised his record.

Abdelaziz Kotti, of Nidaa Tounes, spoke of "a big economic crisis... and a government incapable of finding solutions and giving Tunisians hope."

Former prime minister Ali Lareyedh, of the Islamist Ennahda party, said the government had been "too weak".

"It is time for a change," he said.

Essid had already been forced into a broad reshuffle in January, when the country witnessed some of its worst social unrest since the 2011 uprising that toppled longtime dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.

Three terrorist attacks last year, including gun attacks on foreign visitors at a museum and a beach resort, have badly damaged the tourism industry, which makes up around 8 percent of the economy and is a major source of jobs.

The country has been in a state of emergency since November, when a suicide bombing, claimed by DAESH, killed 12 presidential guards in Tunis.

Economic growth slowed to 0.8 percent last year from 2.3 percent in 2014, and unemployment nationwide stood at 15 percent at the end of last year.

TRTWorld and agencies