Saturday, January 24, 2015

Tunisia’s New Premier Announces Cabinet
Tunisia's Prime Minister Habib Essid presented his cabinet to President Beji Caid Essebsi on January 23, 2015 in Tunis.

New Tunisian Prime Minister Habib Essid has formed his cabinet without handing any posts to the Islamist party, Ennahda, which led the previous government.

The premier, a former interior minister, announced the cabinet line-up on Friday which is mostly made up of figures from Tunisia’s secular party Nidaa Tounes and other smaller partners in the parliament.

"This government is a government of national competences that comprises politicians...civil society figures and people who have experience and expertise," Essid told reporters.

The premier added that he had formed the cabinet after holding consultations with political party chiefs and civil society figures.

He emphasized that the ministers would work based on Nidaa Tounes’ program in cooperation with other parties, saying, “It is a government for all Tunisians to apply democracy.”

The full assembly must now vote to ratify the new cabinet.

On January 5, Essid was tasked with forming a new government by President Beji Caid Essebsi, who won Tunisia's first free presidential election in December since independence from France in 1956.

The Ennahda party, which has the second largest number of seats in the assembly, had sought a unity government with Nidaa Tounes. However, the seculars have already made it clear that they have been against any alliance with the Islamists.

Essebsi, from the Nidaa Tounes secular political party, garnered 55.68 percent of the votes to overcome former President Moncef Marzouki, who collected 44.32 percent of the ballots, in the December 21 run-off.

Tunisia, the birthplace of pro-democracy protests across North Africa and the Middle East, revolted against the Western-backed dictator, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, in 2011.

According to the UN figures, more than 300 people were killed and hundreds injured in the security forces' crackdown on popular protests that led to Ben Ali's ouster.

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