Tunisian PM elected as new secular party leader
TUNIS - Tunisia's secular Tahya Tounes party, founded this year, elected Prime Minister Youssef Chahed as its president on Sunday, confirming expectations of his leadership months before parliamentary and presidential elections.
The new party was formed in January after months of wrangling within ruling coalition party Nidaa Tounes, resulting in the resignation of dozens of leaders.
The fragile coalition, which also includes the moderate Islamist party Ennahda, is struggling to pass economic reforms demanded by foreign lenders.
Tahya Tounes party (Long Live Tunisia) includes ministers in the government of Chahed and dozens of lawmakers. The party said it is seeking a comfortable win in the next elections to pursue stalled economic reforms.
Elections are due by the end of this year, with Ennahda, Tunisiaâ€™s largest party, favoured to win, according to polls.
Chahed will continue as Prime minister until the next elections and will not resign, political sources said.
The North African country has been hailed as the Arab Springâ€™s only democratic success because protests toppled autocrat Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in 2011 without triggering the kind of violent upheavals seen in Syria and Libya.
But nine cabinets since then have failed to resolve Tunisiaâ€™s economic problems, including high inflation and unemployment. Impatience is rising among lenders such as the International Monetary Fund, who have kept the country afloat.