Tunisia’s interior minister, a close aide of President Saied, resigns

Tunisia’s Interior Minister Taoufik Charfeddine, who is President Kais Saied’s close aide, on Friday announced that he has submitted his resignation so that he can spend more time with his three children after his wife’s death last year.

Charfeddine, aged 54, was holding this position since October 2021. Speaking to the reporters, he said that he wants to thank the president for “his understanding and for allowing me to be relieved of my duties”.

Charfeddine’s wife died in a fire which broke out due to a gas leak in their home in June 2022. Charfeddine was a key figure in the election campaign which led Saied, who was previously little known, to the presidency in 2019.

In a dramatic move in July 2021, Saied sacked the then government and froze the parliament, after which Charfeddine became his close adviser.

As President Saied worked through sweeping changes in the political system of the country, Charfeddine emerged as one of his most outspoken defenders.

Video footage of the frequent meetings of the two men in the presidential palace was regularly released by Saied’s office. During the multiple arrests that took place during Saied’s regime, Charfeddine continued holding a press conferences and defending the opposition politicians’ incarceration.

When Islamist-inspired Ennahdha party’s vice president went on hunger strike to raise his voice against his detention, Charfeddine said that fears of terrorism had forced the security forces to respond.

“There were fears of acts of terrorism targeting the country’s security and we had to act,” said the minister, while speaking about former justice minister Noureddine Bhiri’s arrest.

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Charfeddine stood by Saied’s side last month as the country battled an international outcry over a tirade by the president against sub-Saharan Africa’s illegal migrants.

“There is no question of allowing anyone in an illegal situation to stay in Tunisia,” said the president during one of his recorded meetings with the minister.

“I will not allow the institutions of the state to be undermined or the demographic composition of Tunisia to be changed,” he added.

(With inputs from agencies)

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