TUNIS, TUNISIA >> Tunisia's parliament passed a vote of no confidence in Prime Minister Habib Essid on Saturday, effectively disbanding the government of the U.S.-trained agricultural economist.
The no-confidence motion was passed by 118 votes, easily crossing the country's 109-vote threshold after a debate that stretched late into the night. Although the result was expected — Essid had faced criticism from across Tunisia's political spectrum — the vote was a mark of the instability which has bedeviled the North African country since it kicked off a wave of pro-democracy rebellions across the Arab world in 2011
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 fellow Arab countries such as Egypt, Yemen Syria and Libya — whose revolts have degenerated into coups or anarchic civil conflicts — Tunisia has maintained its parliamentary democracy in the face of jihadi attacks, inflation, and stubbornly high unemployment rates.
But the difficulties have steadily sapped the authority of Essid, whose position has also been undermined by political maneuvering within Tunisia's secular Nida Tounis party and pressure from the country's president, Beji Caid Essebsi, who called for a new national unity government last month.
Essid said that he would do his best to make sure the transition to the new government was a tranquil one. 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 being given a standing ovation by the lawmakers who'd ousted him.