Tunisia ruling party suspends prime minister's membership

Tunisia ruling party suspends prime minister's membership
The move is the latest escalation in a row between Prime Minister Youssef Chahed and the president's son.
2 min read
15 September, 2018
Tunisia's president Beji Caid Essebsi (L) and PM Youssef Chahed attend naval drill [Getty]
Tunisia's ruling Nidaa Tounes party froze the prime minister's membership on Friday after a squabble between him and the president's son. 

"The party decided to freeze the membership of Chahed," Nidaa Tounes said in a statement.

The ongoing battle between the two politicians began in May after Nidaa Tounes failed to secure a victory in the country's municipal elections.

The president's son, Hafedh Caid Essebsi, at the time called for Chahed's dismissal for failing to improve the economy. Meanwhile, Chahed charged Essebsi, the leader of Nidaa Tounes, with destroying the party and harming state institutions. 

The influential UGGT labour union had backed Essebsi's call and had earlier rejected an economic and social reform package proposed by Chahed. 

However, the Islamist party Ennahda rejected calls to dismiss Chahed following the suspension of his membership to Nidaa Tounes. It said his departure would hamper stability at a time when economic reforms are badly needed. 

"Despite the lack of political support for the government, we will move ahead with economic reforms next year, including the reform of subsidies and social funds," Chahed said on Friday.

In July, President Beji Caid Essebsi called on Chahed to step down or seek a confidence vote in parliament. He blasted the prime minister for his handling of the economy, and withdrew support for the premier. 

The North African country has been the only democratic success story following the 2011 Arab uprisings that swept through the region. 

But nine cabinets since the ouster of strongman Zine El Abidine Ben Ali have failed to address Tunisia's grinding economic problems, including high inflation and unemployment. 

Agencies contributed to this report. 

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