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Tunisian parliament forms panel to investigative allegations made against prime minister

The Tunisian parliament announced on Friday the formation of a panel to investigate allegations made by the opposition party against Prime Minister Elyes Fakhfakh, Al Arabiya TV reported.

Fakhfakh faced demands to resign over an alleged conflict of interest. Last month, an independent member of parliament published documents indicating that companies Fakhfakh owns shares in had won deals worth 44 million dinars ($15 million) from the state.

The row comes as Tunisia tries to put state finances on a sounder footing after years of deficit spending and mounting public debt - issues the coronavirus crisis has turbo-charged.

Fakhfakh became prime minister only in February after September's election produced a fractured parliament in which no party took more than a quarter of the seats, leading to months of wrangling to form a coalition.

Fakhfakh told parliament he was ready to resign if any violation was proved, but added that he had sold his shares in the companies and rejected accusations of corruption.

“The prime minister said that if the error is proven he will resign - and this means the whole government will resign,” said the anti-corruption minister, Mohamed Abbou.

The state anti-corruption commission has said Fakhfakh did not inform it that companies where he has shares had commercial deals with the state. Its head, Chawki Tbib, told parliament the firms' contracts with the state should be cancelled.

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