TUNIS, March 18, 2023 (BSS/AFP) - Tunisian interior minister Taoufik
Charfeddine, a close aide of President Kais Saied, announced Friday he had
resigned to spend more time with his three children following the death of
his wife last year.
Charfeddine, 54, who had held his post since October 2021, told reporters he
wished to thank the president for "his understanding and for allowing me to
be relieved of my duties".
The minister's wife died in a fire caused by a gas leak in their home in June
A former lawyer, Charfeddine was a key figure in the election campaign that
propelled the previously little known Saied to the presidency in 2019.
After Saied froze parliament and sacked the then government in a dramatic
July 2021 move against the sole democracy to emerge from the Arab Spring
uprisings, Charfeddine became a close adviser.
As the president pushed through sweeping changes to the country's political
system, concentrating near-total power in his office, Charfeddine was one of
the most outspoken defenders of his power grab.
Saied's office regularly released video footage of the two men's frequent
meetings in the presidential palace.
During the wave of arrests that accompanied Saied's power grab, Charfeddine
held news conferences to defend the incarceration of opposition politicians.
When the vice president of the Islamist-inspired Ennahdha party, the largest
in parliament before its dissolution by Saied, went on hunger strike to
protest his detention, Charfeddine alleged that terrorism fears had forced
the security forces to respond.
"There were fears of acts of terrorism targeting the country's security and
we had to act," the minister said last year of the arrest of Noureddine
Bhiri, a former justice minister.
Last month, Charfeddine was by Saied's side as Tunisia faced an international
outcry over a tirade by the president against illegal migrants from sub-
"There is no question of allowing anyone in an illegal situation to stay in
Tunisia," the president said in one of his videotaped meetings with the
"I will not allow the institutions of the state to be undermined or the
demographic composition of Tunisia to be changed."
The president's speech two nights previously had triggered a wave of violence
against African migrants and prompted several West African countries to
organise repatriation flights for fearful nationals.
On March 8, more than 30 Tunisian non-governmental organisations demanded an
apology from the minister after he branded as "traitors" the president's many
critics in the private sector, the media and trade unions.
They accused him of using the "language of threat and intimidation" to "sow
division" among Tunisians as part of a "dangerous populist discourse that
foreshadows a police state" like the one overthrown in the country's 2011