Tunisian premier replaces Finance Minister Lamia Zribi: spokesman

Tunisia's Finance Minister Lamia Zribi gestures as she speaks during an interview in Tunis, Tunisia, February 24, 2017. Picture taken February 24, 2017. REUTERS/Zoubeir Souissi

TUNIS (Reuters) - Tunisia's Prime Minister Youssef Chahed on Sunday replaced his finance minister after she had faced criticism from political opponents over the sharp fall in the dinar currency and slow progress in economic reforms.

Chahed's spokesman said the premier had replaced Finance Minister Lamia Zribi with Minister of Investment Fadhel Abd Kefi, without giving a reason for the dismissal.

Six years after its uprising ended Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali's autocratic rule, Tunisia is praised for its progress to democracy. But successive governments failed to push through some of the painful reforms needed to overhaul public spending.

The International Monetary Fund earlier this month agreed to pay out a delayed $320-million second tranche of Tunisia's loan program after talks to agree on reform priorities. It had been delayed from December over a lack of progress on reforms.

Zribi had come under criticism after she suggested this month Tunisia's central bank would reduce its interventions so the value of the dinar steadily declines, but it would prevent a dramatic slide in the currency.

That strategy was part of Tunisia's talks with the IMF, which is pushing Tunisia to overhaul its finances and reduce public spending, especially public-sector wages, where spending is among the highest in the world.

(Reporting by Tarek Amara; writing by Patrick Markey)