President Beji Caid Essebsi announces breaking up of ties with coalition partner Ennhadha Party, at a time when a power shift is taking place with many parliamentarians changing loyalties.

A man hangs a picture of Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi during a meeting with Mohsen Marzouk in Tunis, Tunisia. January 10, 2016.
A man hangs a picture of Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi during a meeting with Mohsen Marzouk in Tunis, Tunisia. January 10, 2016. (Reuters Archive)

Tunisia, the only country to achieve democratic success in the so-called Arab Spring after protests toppled Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in 2011, has been facing mounting political tension during the past few months. 

Nine cabinets have failed since 2011 to find a solution to the country’s economic problems, including high inflation and unemployment.

And lenders like the International Monetary Fund (IMF) are also growing impatient. 

Governing Nidaa Tounes suspends PM's membership

Tunisia’s governing Nidaa Tounes party said on Friday it had frozen the prime minister’s membership in the latest escalation in a row between the prime minister and the president’s son.

Prime Minister Youssef Chahed said in May that the president’s son, Hafedh Caid Essebsi, had destroyed the governing Nidaa Tounes party and that the crisis in the party has affected state institutions.

The president’s son, who is a leader of the Nidaa Tounes, had called for the prime minister’s dismissal because of his government’s failure to revive the economy. His call was supported by the powerful UGTT union, which has rejected economic reforms proposed by the prime minister.

Tunisia's Prime Minister Youssef Chahed attends the international forum on public-private partnerships in Tunis, Tunisia, September 18, 2018.
Tunisia's Prime Minister Youssef Chahed attends the international forum on public-private partnerships in Tunis, Tunisia, September 18, 2018. (Reuters Archive)

MPs resign amid rising tension 

Two weeks ago, eight members from Nidaa Tunis resigned to join a new coalition called the National Coalition, which supports Chahed’s government. 

There are 217 seats in Tunisia's Parliament with eight blocs and Ennahda has been at the top with 69 seats, surpassing the governing Nidaa Tunis. 

Composed at the start of 33 deputies, the new parliamentary bloc now includes 43 deputies. However, more members of parliament are expected to join their bloc, which may cause a shift in power in the parliament.

President announces divorce with Ennhadha

Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi on Tuesday has announced ending relations with coalition partner Ennahda. 

''There will be no more consensus between Caid Essebsi and Ennahda'', he said

In May, officials from the secular Nidaa Tounes and conservative Ennahda and labour and employers' unions agreed to start a new economic programme.

However, talks broke off very quick after the parties failed to hammer out details. 

Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi casts his vote at a polling station in Tunis during 2014 elections.
Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi casts his vote at a polling station in Tunis during 2014 elections. (Reuters Archive)

Elections in December

Tunisia will hold the presidential election in December 2019, President Essebsi announced on Monday evening. 

The Ennahda Nidaa and Tounes agreed in 2014 on a constitution granting far-reaching political rights, limiting the role of religion and holding free elections, which stands out in a region often run by autocrats.

But Tunisia fell into a political crisis again this year after Essebsi’s son called for the prime minister's dismissal. 

In his more than two years in office, Chahed has pushed through austerity measures and structural reforms, such as cutting fuel subsidies that have helped to underpin a $2.8 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and other financial support.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies