Last updated: 26 January, 2015

New Tunisia cabinet faces tight confidence vote Tuesday

The Tunisian parliament on Monday delayed what was expected to be a tight vote of confidence on the first government since landmark free elections held last year.

MPs were to convene Tuesday to vote on prime minister designate Habib Essid’s line-up, parliament said on its website, only to announce later that “the vote has been put off to a later date”.

The moderate Islamist movement Ennahda, which holds 69 of parliament’s 217 seats, has said it will vote against the line-up, as have three smaller parties.

Essid, a former interior minister and nominal independent, was charged with forming a government by anti-Islamist President Beji Caid Essebsi following his inauguration in late December.

With 86 seats, Essebsi’s own party Nidaa Tounes fell short of a majority in the October parliamentary election, forcing Essid to seek coalition partners.

He handed the tourism and sports ministries to the Free Patriotic Union party of businessman Slim Riahi, which holds 13 seats, and others to independents.

But Ennahda, which dominated the interim administrations that led Tunisia through the transition after the Arab Spring revolution of 2011, was left out.

Three other parties have also said they will vote against the cabinet line-up — the leftist Popular Front with 15 seats, the liberal Afek Tounes party with eight and the Moubadara party of former foreign minister Kamel Morjane with three.