The newly appointed Tunisian Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi. AFP
Tunisia's interior minister Hichem Mechichi has been appointed to form the next government, the president's office said, amid political tensions among major parties in the North African country.
The 46-year-old lawyer succeeds Elyes Fakhfakh, who resigned as prime minister earlier this month — but HIchem Mechichi was not one of the names proposed by the ruling political parties to President Kais Saied.
In a statement following Saturday's announcement, Mechichi said he would "work to form a government that meets the expectations of all Tunisians".
Tunisia has been praised as a rare success story for democratic transition after the Arab Spring regional uprisings sparked by its 2011 revolution.
But its leaders have struggled to meet the expectations of the Tunisian people and the already fragile economy has been battered by the closure of the country's borders because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The disease has claimed around 50 lives and infected more than 1,400 people in Tunisia.
As well as being interior minister in the outgoing government, Mechichi has been a counsellor to President Saied, handling legal matters. He has previously been chief of staff at the transport ministry and also served in the social affairs ministry.
He now has a month to form a government.
At that point his choice will be put to a parliamentary vote of confidence and will need an absolute majority to succeed. Failing that, parliament will be dissolved and new elections organised within three months.
Key players include media mogul Nabil Karoui — behind bars due to an ongoing money laundering probe — Abdelfattah Mourou, who heads a first-time bid on behalf of his Islamist inspired Ennahdha party, and Prime Minister Youssef Chahed.
Saied was on 19 per cent, leading imprisoned media magnate Nabil Karoui, who was on 14.9 per cent, and ahead of the candidate from the Islamist-inspired Ennahdha party Abdelfattah
At nightfall, young people gathered on the roofs of houses and streets to lob stones and fireworks at police and National Guard officers.
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