Tunisia's first female PM garners mixed views amid 'coup'

Tunisia's first female PM garners mixed views after 'coup success'
2 min read
29 September, 2021
Politicians across the country say the move doesn't change issues in the Tunisian political sphere as the government will still 'not be legitimate'
Politicans across the country say "deep problems" remain which overshadow the historic move [Tunisian Presidency]

Najla Bouden's appointment as Tunisia's first-ever female prime minister on Wednesday has led to mixed reactions across the country, after President Kais Saied's power grab that has been dubbed an "anti-democracy coup".

Bouden, a geologist, was an unknown on the Tunisian political scene, but on Wednesday was named as PM by Saied. Her appointment came two months after the president's wide-ranging power-grab, which saw him sack government members - including the former premier - and suspend parliament.

Like Saied, the new 63-year-old prime minister is from an academic background.

The Kairouan native worked as a professor of higher education at the National School of Engineers in Tunisia before her appointment as prime minister, which has already been slammed by MPs.

"[The government] will not be legitimate because it will not take an oath [due to] the absence of the Assembly of the Representatives of the People of Tunisia," said Democratic MP Mohammed Bounni in a statement to The New Arab's sister publication Al-Araby Al-Jadeed.

Bouni said they will wait to see who is named as ministers in her team but "deep problems [remain] especially because the constitution is still not in place".

Saied said last week he would ignore the constitution and rule by decree, effectively ending Tunisia's democracy.

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Bouden was appointed as the director general in charge of quality at the ministry of higher education in 2011. She was also the ministry's Head of Purpose Action Unit, according to The New Arab's Tunisia correspondent.

Bouden was also assigned a task at the office of the former Minister of Higher Education Shehab Boden in 2015.

Rami Al-Salihi, director of the Moroccan office for the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network, said her selection as prime minister "does not change the essence of the [Tunisian] issue... the coup is still in effect... the exclusionary approach of Kais Saied is still in effect".

However, there have been some positive reactions across Tunisia's political scene.

"The selection of a woman for the position of prime minister is an important step", the leader of the Long Live Tunis Party, Walid Jallad, said in a statement to Al-Araby Al-Jadeed.

He did acknowledge that the move comes at a "sensitive" time for the country.