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A look at Interior Minister Lotfi Brahem’s dismissal

Published the:  06/06/2018

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(TAP) - The dismissal by Interior Minister Lotfi Brahem by Prime Minister Youssef Chahed coincides with the tragedy of the migrant boat sinking off Kerkennah. That accident occurred last Sunday and caused dozens of deaths.

The dismissal was announced late Wednesday morning on the Facebook page of the Prime Ministry, without giving any details on its reasons.

The Government only states that Justice Minister Ghazi Jeribi will assume the duties of interim interior minister.

The dismissal also comes after media reports that the Prime Minister has given the Interior Minister 48 hours to execute an arrest warrant against former interior minister Najem Gharsalli, who was to be heard by the court in a conspiracy case against state security.

That information was quickly denied by the department. Lotfi Brahem stated that he did not receive any notice, either orally or in writing, from the Prime Minister on this ultimatum.

Parties have criticised the government and in particular the Interior Department for the "the security vacuum" in Kerkennah since 2016 after the withdrawal of security forces during clashes that took place with jobless protesters outside Petrofac Company.

In the course of the day, Lotfi Brahem dismissed 10 Police and National Guard officers from Sfax, in the light of the investigations into the circumstance of the Kerkennah boat sinking.

The minister said he ordered the central inspector in the department, as well as the inspectors from the General Directorate of the National Guard and the National Police Directorate, to go there to investigate and determine the responsibilities.

During the same day, the President of the Republic received Prime Minister Youssef Chahed.

The meeting focused on the progress of the investigation into the circumstances of the Kerkennah boat sinking.

Prime Minister Youssef Chahed, on Tuesday, visited Kerkennah to reaffirm the commitment to beef up police presence, to remedy the shortcomings and to bring to trial death traffickers who manipulate the Tunisian youth.

He was accompanied by Minister of Defence Abdelkrim Zbidi, the governor of Sfax and several military and security officers. The Minister of the Interior was not present in this visit.

During his visit, Chahed had openly admitted the existence of a security vacuum despite the many measures taken.

He announced the creation in the coming days of a police unit that will allow law enforcers to be present on the premises on a continuous basis.

He also assured that radar and other equipment will be provided to Maritime Guard units to enable them to carry out their mission.

Online media talked about disputes between Lotfi Brahem and Youssef Chahed regarding the appointment of some security officials to the ministry.

That information was denied by Lotfi Brahem who stated that discussion does not mean conflict and disagreement.