Tunisia: Minister of Culture dismissed for flouting Covid-19 rules

Tunisian Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi dismissed the country’s Minister of Culture for disregarding recommended measures to confront covid-19 pandemic and tasked Tourism Minister Habib Ammar with serving as acting Culture Minister.

 

This decision was announced in a press release issued late on Monday night on the Prime Ministry’s Facebook page.

 

Walid Zidi, the first blind minister in the history of the North African country, angered Mechini after he attended a protest organized by professionals of the culture sector on Monday against the new government measures in their sector.

 

With a view to stem the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, PM Hichem Mechichi announced a set of measures in several sectors, including in the sector of culture. The measures, revealed Saturday, stipulate the banning of cultural and artistic activities and events for two weeks.

 

Speaking before the sit-inners at the City of Culture, Zidi took a stance against the implementation of these government decisions.

 

“The ministry will abide by the government’s decisions, only after meeting with the health committee, and coordinating with sector representatives. Otherwise, we are not here to implement the Prime Minister’s directives,” Walid Zidi said.

 

“The ministry did not issue a press release about the ban of cultural events and no documents have been inked to enforce this decision,” Zidi affirmed.

 

The Prime Ministry’s office reacted quickly to this polemical statement, but shortly before Zaidi’s dismissal, the Culture Ministry issued a press release in which it announced the “postponement of cultural and artistic events and shows dedicated to the public” and pointed to the need to comply with the current health protocol.

 

This is the second time that Zidi is kicked out of the technocratic cabinet. In August, the schoolteacher was removed from the cabinet lineup after he expressed his unwillingness to lead the department of culture. He was reinstated after President Kais Saied launched his support behind the controversial young minister.

 

Tunisia reported 2,312 news cases and 43 deaths registered on October 4 – 5. The new figures bring the total contaminations to 24,542 since the appearance of the first case in early March and the death toll to 364.

 

The Mechichi-led government is considering a partial lockdown in Greater Tunis governorate to slow down the contaminations.

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