Tunisia prime minister names new cabinet

Mehdi Jomaa appoints foreign and finance ministers, completing a cabinet that will oversee new elections.

    Tunisia prime minister names new cabinet
    Jomaa is seen by many Tunisians as someone who can unite different political factions [AP]

    Mehdi Jomaa, Tunisia's prime minister, has named a new caretaker cabinet to govern the country until elections.

    Sunday's development came quickly after an announcement by Jomaa that he had failed to reach a consensus on a new cabinet after objections from the opposition.

    In the new government, Hakim Ben Hammouda, an economist with experience at the African Development Bank, will be the finance minister while Mongi Hamdi, a former UN official, will be the foreign minister.

    Jomaa, a technocrat, was appointed in December after the ruling Islamist Ennahda party agreed to step down in a deal with secular opponents to end a political crisis.

    "The objective is to arrive at elections and create the security and economic climate to get out of this crisis," Jomaa said in Tunis.

    Tunisia's assembly finished work on a new constitution last week, and will vote to approve it shortly. Its progress stand in contrast to turmoil in Libya, Egypt and Yemen which also toppled leaders in 2011 uprisings.

    Al Jazeera's Nazanine Moshiri, reporting from Tunis, said that Tunisians see Jomaa as a unifier, and as someone who can hold the country together until new elections are held.     

    "All these political wrangling seems to be over for now," she said.

    No date has been set for elections though they are due this year.

    One of the most secular countries in the Arab World, Tunisia struggled after its 2011 revolt with divisions over the role of Islam and the rise of ultra-conservative Salafists, who secularists feared would try to roll back liberal rights.

    The new government will have to tackle demands from international lenders to cut public spending and curb the budget
    deficit without triggering protests over social welfare.

    Armed groups tied to al-Qaeda operations in North Africa are also an increasing threat for a country that relies heavily on European tourism and overseas remittances for its hard-currency income.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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