Tunisia's post-revolution cabinet unveiled

Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali announces his new cabinet lineup, with key posts going to Islamist Ennahdha party.

    Hamadi Jebali [left] has taken over from interim prime minister Beji Caid Essebsi following the October election [AFP]

    Tunisia's Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali has announced his new cabinet lineup, with key ministerial posts allotted to his dominant Islamist Ennahdha party.

    The list of 41 cabinet members was announced on Thursday, two months after Tunisia's first free elections on October 23, which chose an assembly tasked with writing a new constitution following the ousting of Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in January.

    The constituent assembly is to meet on Friday to approve the premier's list of appointees, the subject of weeks of negotiations between the moderate Islamist Ennahdha and its two left-leaning allies.

    The selection of a new government is a major milestone in Tunisia, following the country's protests against Ben Ali that began in December 2010.

    The demonstrations triggered what would become the Arab Spring, a series of uprisings across the Arab world against authoritarian regimes.

    Ben Ali ultimately fled to Saudi Arabia, but Tunisia has charged him in absentia with many crimes including murder.

    In Tunisia's first free elections, Ennahdha won the largest bloc of seats, gaining 89 out of 217 available, and Jebali, the party's number two, was designated premier earlier this month.

    Moncef Marzouki of the Congress for the Republic (CPR) became president and the Ettakatol party's Mustapha Ben Jaafar was chosen as speaker of the assembly.

    The north African nation is in the midst of a major economic crisis, with observers saying it's vital for the new government to get up and running as soon as possible.

    From outside the main parties, Hassine Dimassi, an independent economist and university professor, was named as finance minister.

    Faced with economic and political uncertainty, some foreign investors have already quit. Japanese group Yazaki, a major maker of automobile electrical cables, on Tuesday shut one of its Tunisia factories following a strike.

    The new government, however, may now be able to persuade companies that the business environment is improving.

    "The Ennahdha Islamists are theoretically in a good place to convince investors and operators, both foreign and Tunisian," French-language daily newspaper La Presse said in a Thursday editorial.

    Ali Larayedh, a former political prisoner and Ennahdha party senior official was picked for interior minister.

    Nourredine Bhiri, currently the party spokesperson, was appointed justice minister and Rafik Ben Abdessalem, son-in-law of Ennahdha leader Rached Ghannouchi, was named to head the foreign ministry.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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