Tunisia Prime Minister unveils cabinet lineup

Last Updated: Friday, December 23, 2011 - 17:12

Tunis: Tunisia`s Prime Minister Hamadi
Jebali on Friday announced his new cabinet lineup, with key
ministerial posts allotted to his dominant Islamist Ennahda
party.

The list of 41 cabinet members was drawn up 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 tomorrow to approve
the premier`s list of appointees, the subject of weeks of
negotiations between the moderate Islamist Ennahda 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 that led
to the overthrow of several veteran dictators.

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

In Tunisia`s first free elections, Ennahda 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 state 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.

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 the business environment is improving.

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

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

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

PTI



First Published: Friday, December 23, 2011 - 11:29

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