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Forming the third government in less than a year, Tunisia’s former interior minister- Hichem Mechichi, has now stepped up to the role of the Prime Minister of Tunisia.

The new government’s swearing-in ceremony had taken place at the Carthage Palace on the Eastern outskirts of the capital, Tunis. Mr. Mechichi replaced Mr. Elyes Fakhfakh, who had resigned after being questioned about his business dealings; he held power for a mere five months prior to that.

134 of the 217 members of parliament voted for Mechichi and his cabinet in the fifteen-hour long session that commenced on Tuesday. The new cabinet consists of twenty-five ministers and three secretaries of state, which includes seven women and a blind man, a first in Tunisian history.

Mechichi, a trained lawyer, has appointed judges, business executives, academics and public servants to his cabinet. Taking the place of Mechichi as the interior minister is Taoufik Charfeddine, a former lawyer. Another minister is Ali Kooli, the Chief executive of the Arab Banking Corporation, now head of the ministries of finance, investment and economy. Among others appointed to their new positions in this cabinet are magistrate Mohamed Boussetta (Justice) and Ibrahim Bartagi (Defense), a former law professor.

Mechichi was chosen as a candidate for this post by President Kais Saied in July. However, he dropped his support after Mechichi turned to seek the assistance of other parties in order to assert himself as the head of the government. Some ministers even claimed that they were told to vote against Mechichi by the president, and instead, continue with a caretaker government.

Mechichi stated, "The government formation comes at a time of political instability and the people's patience has reached its limit," adding that the new government would focus on "social and economic questions and respond to the urgent concerns of Tunisians."

Tunisia is in a state of political and economic unrest, which has been further aggravated by the pandemic. The tourism-dependent economy of Tunisia shrank by a whopping 21.6% in the second quarter of 2020 as compared to that during the same time frame last year. Furthermore, the unemployment rate spiked and currently sits at a high 18%

Tunisia is in need of new assistance from the International Monetary Fund. With a debt of about 80 billion dinars ($30 billion), and 7.5 billion dinars due to be repaid in 2020, Mechichi’s government will have to resume talks with the IMF.

While political representatives have their focus glued to their continuity in power, Tunisians have voiced their disappointment in how boiling matters are being handled.

Constant protests over extensive unemployment, poor healthcare, lack of investment for development, electricity and water services, have led to authorities being unable to retain grip over the trust that the public once had in them.

Tunisia's third since October and ninth since the 2011 revolution, the new government has millions of prayers and expectations to do justice to.

Reporter- Sukruthi Sanampudi

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