Tunisia PM-designate presents unity government line-up

Tunisia PM-designate presents unity government line-up
3 min read
20 August, 2016
Premier-designate Youssef Chahed unveiled his unity government on Saturday, pledging to work to try to resolve deep social and economic crises that plague Tunisia.
Chahed, 40, would become the youngest PM if his cabinet is confirmed by parliament [Getty]
Premier-designate Youssef Chahed unveiled his unity government on Saturday, pledging to work to try to resolve deep social and economic crises that plague Tunisia five years after the Arab Spring revolt.

If his cabinet is confirmed by parliament, Chahed, 40, would become the youngest Tunisian prime minister since the North African country won independence from France in 1956.

"The promises have been kept," Chahed told a news conference late Saturday.

He said he will head a 27-member cabinet which will also include 14 ministers of state, eight women "in important" positions and "14 young" ministers.

"We have tried to follow a method which would guarantee... the efficiency of the government's work," Chahed said.

"We have formed it according to the priorities which I outlined on August 3," he added of the day he was nominated to form a cabinet.

His appointment by President Beji Caid Essebsi came as Tunisia struggles with a stagnant economy and the threat posed by extremists, as well as pressing social issues.

Chahed was given the task to form a new government days after lawmakers passed a vote of no confidence in the government of premier Habib Essid after just 18 months in office.

"Today we are entering a new stage that requires effort, sacrifice, audacity, courage, selflessness and unorthodox solutions," Chahed told reporters on August 3.

If the cabinet wins the backing of parliament, Chahed will also be Tunisia's seventh prime minister since a youth-led revolt in 2011 toppled longtime dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.

Chahed earlier on Saturday submitted his proposed line-up to the president.

Seven ministers from the outgoing cabinet – defence, interior, foreign affairs, transport, tourism, education and equipment – will keep their portfolios in the new administration.

Newcomers will include a woman, Lamia Zribi, as finance minister and a judge, Ghazi Jeribi, as justice minister.

Chahed also chose a woman, Samira Merai, to head the health ministry.

Chahed is a member of the Nidaa Tounes party, which was founded by Essebsi.

Essid's cabinet, which included Nidaa Tounes, the moderate Islamist movement Ennahda and two other groups, was strongly criticised for failing to tackle an extremist insurgency and Tunisia's economic crisis.

In June, Essebsi said he would support the formation of a new unity government.

Many Tunisians welcomed the nomination of a comparatively young premier – especially compared with other leaders since 2011. Essebsi is 89 years old, and Essid is 67.

If his cabinet receives parliamentary approval, Chahed's main task will be to remedy the economic and social crises that still grip Tunisia five years after the revolution.

He has also pledged to combat terrorism and corruption.