Tunisia’s embattled central bank governor said Wednesday he will resign his post, even if lawmakers reject efforts to replace him amid mounting anger over economic policies in the birthplace of the Arab Spring.
Lawmakers were scheduled to meet Thursday to vote on a proposal submitted by President Beji Caid Essebsi, on behalf of his premier, to replace Chadli Ayari with Marouane El Abassi, an economist appointed as the World Bank’s representative in Libya in 2010. The push to replace Ayari comes as Tunisia is grappling with growing public anger over rising prices, entrenched unemployment and a dearth of foreign investments.
“Even if parliament renews its confidence in me, I will not stay,” Ayari, who was appointed in 2012, said during a meeting of parliament’s finance committee. “What happened is a big insult to me.”
Tunisia had been planning to tap international investors with a billion dollar eurobond sale, and analysts have said the change at the helm of the central bank could delay that move. That would further imperil the country’s foreign reserve holdings, which currently cover less than 90 days of imports.
Many businessmen have criticized Ayari for what they deem as a slow response to crises and outmoded methods. At the same time, however, the coalition government has come under fire for pushing ahead with economic policies aimed at trimming the deficit by cutting spending and subsidies. The measures have been recommended by the International Monetary Fund, which in 2016 approved a $2.9 billion loan for Tunisia.