Nidaa Tounes to punish MPs who abstain from govt vote

TUNIS – Tunisia's Nidaa Tounes party has vowed to take "disciplinary measures" against members who defied the party's decision to give confidence to the new government of Prime Minister-designate Habib Essid in a parliamentary vote on Thursday.

"Adequate organizational measures will be taken against the few who rebelled against the party's decision to give confidence to the new government," Nidaa Tounes said Friday.

"The party was surprised by the irregular behavior [on the part of some members] that contradicted the party's position at this critical stage," it added.

Nidaa Tounes, which holds the largest number of seats in Tunisia's parliament, had called on its 89 MPs to give confidence to the government led by Essid, who is himself a senior party member.

However, MPs Abdelaziz al-Qutti and Khamis Qasila both abstained in the Thursday vote, in which Essid's government nevertheless easily won a vote of confidence.

Al-Qutti had told The Anadolu Agency that his decision to abstain from voting had been due to what he described as Nidaa Tounes' weak representation in the new government.

At a Thursday session, 166 lawmakers voted in favor of Essid's government, 30 voted against, and eight abstained.

In a speech to parliament, Essid pledged to present a detailed report on his government's performance by the end of its first 100 days in office.

On Monday, Essid unveiled his new cabinet lineup, which includes one member of the Islamist Ennahda movement.

The new government is comprised of 27 ministers and 15 deputy ministers, including Ennahda spokesman Ziyad al-Azari, who was given the labor portfolio. 

Three deputy ministerial posts also went to Ennahda members.

In Tunisia's 217-seat parliament, Essid's secular Nidaa Tounes party holds 86 seats, while Ennahda holds 69. The Popular Front and Afek Tounes parties hold 15 and eight seats respectively.

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