Ennahda shut out of new Tunisian government

Nominated Prime Minister Habib Essid announces proposed cabinet, without any members of former ruling Islamist party.

Tunisia''s Prime Minister-designate Habib Essid speaks during a news conference after his meeting with Tunisia''s President Beji Caid Essebsi in Tunis
Habib Essid has formed his new government after negotiations among the Nidaa Tounes party and other smaller partners [Reuters]

Tunisia’s nominated Prime Minister Habib Essid has said he has formed his new government after negotiations among the Nidaa Tounes party and other smaller partners in the parliament, but without any cabinet posts for members of the Islamist party Ennahda.

Essid announced on Friday the lineup of his new cabinet which includes 24 government ministers and 15 state secretaries, nine of whom are women.

Farhat Hacheni was named as defence minister and while the finance portfolio was handed to Lassaad Zarrouk, an independent economist and director of an insurance company.

Taieb Baccouche, a leading member of Nidaa Tounes, which won the most seats in parliament in elections in October, will be foreign minister.

“They will work on the programme of Nidaa Tounes with the help of the other parties. It is a government for all Tunisians to apply democracy,” Essid said.

Earlier this month, President Beji Caid Essebsi officially tasked Essid with forming a government.

The full assembly must now vote to accept the new parliament.

With 86 out of 217 seats in parliament, Essebsi’s Nidaa Tounes party won parliamentary election last October, while Ennahda came second, with 69 seats.

The election was widely seen as one of the last steps in Tunisia’s path to full democracy after its 2011 uprising.

Ennahda defeated

The general election was the first under the North African country’s new constitution and the second since the 2011 uprising that overthrew the regime of Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. 

Ennahda, the first Islamist movement to secure power after the Arab Spring revolts, conceded defeat after the election.

However, with the second highest number of seats in the assembly, the party had pushed for a unity government with Nidaa Tounes to help Tunisia’s stability as the new government tackles economic reforms and security.

By voting for Nidaa Tounes, Tunisians appeared to prefer the country’s long-established elites to Ennahda.

During the campaign, Ennahda cast itself as a party that learned from the past, but Nidaa Tounes appeared to have capitalised on criticism that the Islamist party had mismanaged the economy and had failed to tackle violence.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies