Tunisia Ousts Prime Minister Habib Essid


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Prime Minister Habib Essid of Tunisia during a parliamentary session before a no-confidence vote on Saturday in Tunis.

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European Pressphoto Agency

TUNIS — Tunisia’s parliament passed a vote of no confidence against Prime Minister Habib Essid on Saturday, effectively disbanding the government of the agricultural economist who studied in Minnesota.

The no-confidence motion was passed by 118 votes, easily crossing the necessary 109-vote threshold after a debate that stretched late into the night.

Although the result was expected, the vote was a mark of the instability which has troubled the North African country since it kicked off a wave of pro-democracy rebellions across the Arab world in 2011.

The Parliament president, Mohamed Ennaceur, told lawmakers that Tunisia was “living through a difficult situation that demands sacrifices from all” and added that “we must now look to the future to return hope to all Tunisians.”

Unlike Arab countries such as Egypt, Yemen, Syria and Libya — whose revolts have degenerated into coups or civil conflicts — Tunisia has maintained its parliamentary democracy in the face of extremist attacks, inflation and stubbornly high unemployment.

But the difficulties steadily sapped the authority of Mr. Essid. His position had also been undermined by political maneuvering within the secular Nidaa Tounes party and pressure from the country’s president, Béji Caïd Essebsi, who last month called for a new unity government.

Mr. Essid, who had been in office less than two years, said he would do his best to make sure the transition to the new government was peaceful. Despite fierce criticism of his government during an extraordinary parliamentary session, he said that the debate “consecrated Tunisia’s nascent democracy.”

“Despite the serious problems our country faces, we have no fear for Tunisia, which has the resources to face up to the challenges,” he said, before receiving a standing ovation by the lawmakers who had ousted him.

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