Tunisia’s leader fires US ambassador for rash dismissals

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TUNIS, Tunisia (AP) – A day after the appointment of a new economy minister, President Kais Saied added the Tunisian ambassador to the United States to a series of layoffs on Tuesday, but he has yet to say who will replace the prime minister he is less likely to be as was dismissed two weeks ago or when.

Saied, who took executive power on July 25 and began to rule by decree, has also held global consultations and on Tuesday met with Egypt’s Foreign Minister, a critical ally in the Middle East.

Local polls indicate that Saieds’ controversial actions, one of which was the freezing of the Tunisian parliament, have received a lot of support.

The North African country has cemented its democracy since it chased away its former autocratic ruler and triggered the Arab Spring a decade ago. Tunisia is the only success story to emerge from these chaotic times, and allies, from the United States to Europe and the Middle East, have been concerned about what will come next.

Tunisia is tackling economic, social and health crises with the coronavirus pandemic overwhelming its hospitals. Saied, using an article in the constitution that allows a president to intervene in serious circumstances, has said he did so to save the country.

During his meeting with the Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shukry, the president stressed “the connection between the security and stability of Egypt and Tunisia,” said the official TAP news agency.

The Egyptian envoy said Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi supported Saied’s steps with “his full support for the historic steps” of the Tunisian leader, the TAP added. “Egypt and Tunisia are working together to ensure stability not only in the two countries, but also in the entire region,” the agency quoted the foreign minister as saying after the meeting.

The important Ministry of Economic Affairs got a new deputy minister on Monday with the dismissal of Ali Kooli, as did the Ministry of Communications Technology.

The spate of layoffs that began when Saied took over full executive power continued Tuesday. Tunisia’s ambassador to Washington, Nejmeddine Lakhal, has been sacked as the youngest dignitary, the official news agency said. No explanation was given. Also on Tuesday, the president dismissed the governor of the important Sfax region in eastern Tunisia.

Some lawmakers have not been spared and have been lured into traps by judicial officers on complaints that could not be prosecuted earlier. The President lifted the parliamentary panel’s immunity when he assumed full powers and a handful were summoned to answer on charges they escaped.

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