What became known as the “Italian waste” case ousted the Tunisian Environment Minister and a group of senior officials who were referred to the investigation into a suspended state, at a time when party leaders close to Prime Minister Hicham El Mechichi did not rule out an imminent cabinet reshuffle.
On Sunday evening, the Presidency of the Government announced – in a brief official statement – the exemption of the Minister of Environment, Mustafa Al-Aroui, and the assignment of the Minister of Equipment to supervise the ministry on behalf of the minister.
The Italian waste issue dates back to months, after customs uncovered a shipment of tons of household waste coming from Italy to the port of Sousse (eastern Tunisia), with the aim of illegally disposing of it as part of a corrupt supply deal under the cover of recyclable waste.
The official spokesman for the Court of First Instance in Sousse Governorate, Jaber Al-Ghunaimi, confirmed in a statement to Al-Jazeera Net that the number of those arrested in the Italian waste case has reached, until the moment, 22 high-ranking officials, including the Minister of Environment, Mustafa Laroui, and a dean in customs suspected of involvement in the case.
He pointed out that the accusation leveled at these persons is related to forming a gang of spoilers, forgery, and the exploitation of a public official of his job for personal gain, and the supply of dangerous materials.
Internationalize the issue
MP for the opposition Democratic Current Party, Magdi El-Karbai, sought to internationalize the issue, especially after the Tunisian authorities evaded responsibility for returning waste to Italy and keeping it in the port of Sousse despite the environmental risks involved.
Al-Karbai told Al-Jazeera Net that he had contacted the Italian Parliament and deputies in the European Parliament with the aim of putting pressure on the Italian company supplying this waste and urging it to return it from where it came.
He confirmed the incomprehensible collusion of senior officials in some Tunisian ministries to obstruct the return of household waste to Italy, although the deputy reached assurances from Italian officials that the Italian company would bear the costs of returning the waste to its original home.
The issue of waste and the dismissal of the Minister of Environment cast a shadow over the political scene in the country, and the fate of the Mechanically-appointed government, which is not supported by the President of the Republic or from a broad spectrum of opposition in Parliament.
Some believe that moving Article 97 of the Constitution is the appropriate alternative to the Federation’s initiative … The persons, roles and alliances furnished for this new scene are under preparation …
Posted by Naoufel Saied on Sunday, 20 December 2020
Evaluation and modification
Party leaderships close to the political belt that support the government of the Michiites began preparing for the beginning of an imminent ministerial modification in light of what they said was the negative performance of some ministers, and the existence of vacancies in each of the ministries of environment and culture.
The leader of the Ennahda Movement, Sami Al-Tariki, announced, in a statement to a local radio, the need for the Meshishi government to “restore and introduce some amendments” to the relationship with the performance of some ministers.
For his part, the representative of the Heart of Tunisia party, Jawhar Al-Mugharibi, told Al-Jazeera Net that the Machichy government, like other governments, must be subject to evaluation after more than 100 days have passed since its work.
He pointed out that the composition of the government and the course of its formation witnessed the interference of several parties to impose the names of certain ministers, especially from the Presidency of the Republic, to demonstrate the weakness of some of them and their inability to continue bearing responsibility in a delicate economic and social circumstance, as he put it.
He pointed out that the parties that represent the parliamentary belt of the Prime Minister, and which gave him confidence during the vote on the government in early September, have the right to evaluate the performance of his ministers and to call for ministerial modification out of their political and national responsibility.
On the other hand, Mughairbi praised the prime minister’s performance and courage, whether in the Italian waste file, or in his readiness for a political, social and economic dialogue that excludes anyone.
The brother of the President of the Republic, the constitutional expert, Nawfal Saeed, had warned, in a series of posts on his Facebook account, of what he said were indications of preparation for a ministerial modification within Chapter 97 of the Constitution.
This chapter provides that a third of the members of Parliament can vote on a blame against the government, and the Assembly of the Representatives of the People can withdraw confidence from a member of the government after a reasoned request submitted to the Speaker of at least one-third of the members, provided that the vote on the withdrawal of confidence is made by an absolute majority.