Tunisia president fires foreign minister amid political crisis

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Tunisian President Kais Saied on Tuesday fired the country’s top diplomat – the fourth minister to lose his post this year in the politically divided nation.

Nabil Ammar, Tunisia’s ambassador to the European Union, will replace Othman Jerandi as foreign minister, the presidency said in a statement on its official website, without providing a reason for the move.

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Saied has already replaced his trade, agriculture and education ministers this year, but Jerandi, who had served as foreign minister since September 2020, is the most senior official to lose his post.

Deepening political divisions have wracked Tunisia since Saied launched a dramatic power grab in July 2021.

He sacked the government, froze parliament and seized far-reaching executive powers, pushing through a new constitution in a referendum in July last year that defanged the parliament and installed a hyper-presidential system.

Tunisia has faced mounting economic woes in recent months, with repeated strikes by teachers and transportation workers along with shortages of basic goods, including milk.

Just 11.4 percent of Tunisians turned out for a second round of voting in January for the now toothless legislature after opposition parties called for a boycott.

The public discontent has put growing pressure on Saied, whose critics have accused him of launching a “coup” in the birthplace of the pro-democracy Arab Spring uprisings.

The moves come in the shadow of Tunisia’s drawn-out negotiations with the International Monetary Fund for a bailout worth nearly $2 billion.

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