Tunisian Prime Minister Elyes Fakhfakh resigned on Wednesday, according to two official sources who did not want to be named, after a row with the Islamist-inspired Ennahdha party.
Fakhfakh, who is under investigation over allegations of conflict of interest, has had strained relations with Ennahdha, the biggest party in parliament, since October legislative elections.
Ennahdha had earlier Wednesday tabled a no-confidence motion against Fakhfakh, who took office in February after winning approval from a fragmented parliament following four months of deadlock.
Ennahdha came top in the October polls but fell far short of a majority — holding 54 of 217 seats in parliament — and eventually agreed to join a coalition government.
The party initially nominated an independent for premier but he failed to win the support of parliament, leading President Kais Saied to name former finance minister Fakhfakh for the post.
Tunisia’s already fragile economy has since been battered by the novel coronavirus pandemic.
Fakhfakh, the leader of a small social democratic party, has come under investigation over alleged failure to hand over control of shares he owns in private companies that have won public contracts in recent months.
“The economic and social situation is very serious and can only be overcome by a government whose head is not suspected of any conflict of interest,” an Ennahdha senior official, Abdelkarim Harouni, told a news conference on Monday.
Harouni had told Tunisian radio shortly before Fakhfakh resigned that Ennahdha would present a no-confidence motion in parliament “before the end of July”.
Under Tunisia’s constitution, a no-confidence motion can only succeed if parliament simultaneously approves another prime minister.
Ennahdha said in a statement that it had begun negotiations to find a candidate acceptable to a majority of lawmakers.