Tunisia's president appoints 'relative' as new prime minister

Tunisia's president appoints 'relative' as new prime minister
2 min read
03 August, 2016
Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi named in-law and local affairs minister Youssef Chahed, 40, as prime minister-designate tasked with forming a unity cabinet.
With the appointment of Chahed comes growing fear over the family's increasing power [AFP]

Tunisia's President Beji Caid Essebsi appointed on Wednesday his relative and junior minister Youssef Chahed as Tunisia's prime minister.

Chahed's appointment comes after a parliamentary vote on Saturday removed Prime Minister Habib Essid and his government, which was widely criticised for failing to tackle the country’s economic crisis, high unemployment and a series of jihadist attacks.

Chahed, an in-law of Essebsi and a former local affairs minister in Essid's ousted government has 30 days to form a unity cabinet.

"I met today with the president...who charged me with forming a national unity government," Chahed told reporters outside the presidential palace in Carthage.

Chahed, a 40-year-old agricultural sciences specialist and academic, is part of the Nidaa Tounes secular party.

His party is a member of the ruling coalition controlling a majority of the seats in parliament, which means Chahed's nomination is likely to be accepted by lawmakers when they vote on his approval.

Chahed's ties with President Essebsi has however led to wide criticism from opposition leaders.

His appointment comes as Tunisians launched an online campaign, "Keep your son at home," aimed at President Essebsi, whose son Hafedh was accused of making recommendations on appointments and interfering in state affairs.

Now with the appointment of Chahed, which local media report to be Essebsi's son-in-law, there is growing fear over the family's increasing power.

"The influence of this family may increase further, which could pose a challenge for the next government," Anadolu reported former culture minister Mehdi Mabrouk as saying.

Tunisia was the birthplace of the Arab Spring movement that swept the region in 2011.

The uprising saw much of the region's long-time leaders brought down, including Tunisia's own Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali.

Since then, the country has had seven different cabinets, amid a struggling economy and staggering unemployment rates.

The country's tourism industry was also heavily hit by a series of terrorist attacks, bringing down its overall revenue this year by 38 percent, compared with the same period in 2015.