Tunisia’s Prime Minister Youssef Chahed has sacked Minister of the Interior Lotfi Brahem, a statement by the government said on Wednesday.
Brahem will be replaced by Justice Minister Ghazi Jeribi who will act on an interim basis until a replacement is found, according to the statement.
While no reason was given for the dismissal, Prime Minister Chahed had earlier criticised security forces’ inability to prevent a boat packed with some 180 migrants from sinking off the country’s coast.
More than 68 people were killed.
Human traffickers increasingly use Tunisia as a launch pad for migrants heading to Europe as Libya’s coastguard, aided by armed groups, has tightened controls.
Survivors said the captain had abandoned the boat after it started sinking to escape arrest by the coastguard.
Unemployed Tunisians and other Africans have often tried to cross in makeshift boats from Tunisia to Sicily in southern Italy. The North African country’s economy is in crisis since the toppling of former President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in 2011 threw Tunisia into turmoil with unemployment and inflation soaring.
Brahem was formerly the commander-in-chief of the National Guard, a position he was appointed to in 2015 before being named interior minister in 2017 as part of Chahed’s second government.