Tunisian PM delegates his powers to focus on presidential race

Powers delegated to public service minister Kamal Morjane.
Thursday 22/08/2019
Tunisia's Prime Minister Youssef Chahed, leader of the secular Tahya Tounes party, speaks during a rally in Tunis, Tunisia August 8, 2019. (Reuters)
Tunisia's Prime Minister Youssef Chahed, leader of the secular Tahya Tounes party, speaks during a rally in Tunis, Tunisia August 8, 2019. (Reuters)

Tunisian Prime Minister Youssef Chahed will temporarily delegate his powers to public service minister and former minister of foreign affairs Kamal Morjane to focus on his candidacy for the presidency and to ensure equal opportunities for all candidates, he said on Thursday.

Prime Minister Chahed has been under pressure to step down to avoid conflict of interest.

The Sept. 15 vote follows the passing at age 92 last month of Beji Caid Essebsi, the first president to be democratically elected in Tunisia after the popular uprising of 2011.

Chahed is competing in a race crowded with prominent figures, including former defence minister Abd El karim Zbidi, the vice president of Ennahda Islamist party Abdel Fattah Mourou and former prime minister Mehdi Jomaa.

Former Tunisian president Moncef Marzouki and Nabil Karoui, a businessman and owner of the private channel Nessma TV, and Abir Moussi, a virulent anti-Islamist candidate, will also stand.

Zbidi, Chahed, Mourou and Karoui are likely frontrunners.

“In order to ensure the transparency of the presidential election and the equal opportunities between all candidates, I am temporarily delegating my powers until the end of the campaign for the minister of public service, Kamal Morjane,” Chahed said in a speech.

The election campaign runs from Sept. 2 to 13. Tunisia’s president controls foreign and defence policy, governing alongside a prime minister who has wider powers and authority over most domestic affairs.

The choice of the prime minister is dictated by the results of legislative elections scheduled for next October.

With Chahed's move, all three branches of government in Tunisia are headed by interim presidents ahead of elections. 

(Reuters)