Tunisian Prime Minister Youssef Chahed has been elected the president of Tahya Tounes party, a secular party founded earlier this year, confirming expectations he will run in this year’s presidential election.
The new party was formed in January after months of wrangling within the ruling coalition’s Nidaa Tounes party, resulting in the resignation of dozens of leaders.
The fragile coalition, which also includes the self-defined Muslim democrat party Ennahdha, is struggling to pass economic reforms demanded by foreign lenders.
Tahya Tounes party (Long Live Tunisia) has ministers in Chahed’s government and dozens of legislators. The party said it is seeking a comfortable win in the next election to pursue stalled economic reforms.
Elections are due by the end of this year, with Ennahdha, Tunisia’s largest party, favoured to win, according to polls.
Chahed will continue as prime minister until the next election and will not resign, political sources told Reuters news agency.
The North African country has been hailed as the Arab Spring’s only democratic success because protests toppled autocrat Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in 2011 without triggering the kind of violent upheavals seen in Syria and Libya.
But nine cabinets since then have failed to resolve Tunisia’s economic problems, including high inflation and unemployment. Impatience is rising among lenders such as the International Monetary Fund, who have kept the country afloat.