Tunisia's Ennahdha to withdraw confidence from government

Islamist party’s move comes two days after Prime Minister Fakhfakh says he will conduct cabinet reshuffle in coming days.

TUNIS - Tunisia's Islamist party Ennahdha, the biggest party in the parliament, decided on Wednesday to withdraw confidence from the government, a senior official in Ennahdha told Reuters.

Ennahdha’s move will deepen the political crisis engulfing Prime Minister Elyes Fakhfkah, whom Ennahdha says has lost credibility due to an alleged conflict of interest.

Ennahdha with 54 lawmakers needs 109 votes in parliament to withdraw confidence and will seek support for the motion from its two allies, the Karama and Heart of Tunisia parties.

Fakhfakh said on Monday he will conduct a cabinet reshuffle in the coming days in what appears to be a step to remove Ennahdha's six ministers from the government.

But Ennahdha’s response came quickly and could make the Fakhfkah cabinet just formed in February the first government not to last six months in the North Africa country.

"We adopted the option to withdraw confidence from the prime minister and mandates the party leader to follow up on the implementation of the decision'", said Ennahdha official Imed Khmiri.

An independent member of parliament published documents last month indicating that the prime minister owns shares in companies that had won deals worth 44 million dinars ($15 million) from the state.

Fakhfakh has denied he did anything improper or corrupt. He has promised to step down if investigators find wrongdoing.

Tunisia is struggling to revive its collapsed economy since 2011 revolution that ended the rule of former president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and sparked the Arab Spring.

The government said on Monday it asked four countries to delay debt repayments, as it announced more pessimistic economic and budget forecasts for 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The request on debt repayments underscores the dire condition of Tunisia's public finances, already a source of concern before the coronavirus crisis pummelled the global economy.