Tunisia’s premier-designate presents new national unity government
TUNIS - Tunisia's newly nominated prime minister has announced that his government will include members of the previous administration in key posts.
"All Tunisians are expecting from us," Prime Minister-designate Youssef Chahed said. "We have no right to let them down."
Chahed added that he was keeping seven ministers of the former government, including Farhat Horchani at defense, Hedi Mejdoub at interior and Khemaies Jhinaoui at foreign affairs.
Chahed told reporters this choice was inspired by recent "successes" in the security field and the fight against terrorism. Tunisia suffered two major jihadi attacks last year — at a beach resort and at the well-known Bardo Museum — that killed around 60 people.
The new governmental team of 26 senior ministers and 14 junior ministers includes eight women — up from three previously. Among them is Lamia Zribi, a 55-year-old state bank director, who becomes the new finance minister.
Five members of the government are under the age of 35.
Chahed, a 41-year-year-old agricultural sciences specialist and university professor, became prime minister after his predecessor lost a confidence vote last month. He had served as a junior minister, handling the Fisheries portfolio.
Should parliament approve his government, Chahed would become Tunisia's youngest prime minister since the country's independence from France, in 1956.
Five parties support Chahed, including the two largest — his own Nida Tounes, founded by the president, and the Islamist Ennahda — which together hold a comfortable majority in parliament.
When nominated by President Beji Caid Essebsi earlier this month, Chahed said his priority is the war on terrorism, along with fighting corruption and increasing growth to create jobs.
The North African nation faces inflation, a high unemployment rate and a slump in tourism due to security issues.
Chahed held consultations for over two weeks with representatives of the main political parties, unions and employers organizations and members of the civil society.
Following the presentation of the list of ministers, Chahed called "all political parties and unions to take their responsibilities, support this government and put the country's interest ahead of any consideration."
Chahed came to politics after the revolution that toppled long-time autocratic leader President Zine El Abiding Ben Ali in 2011. His ouster inspired the Arab Spring.