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Tunisia approves new secular-Islamist coalition government

Fethi Belaid, AFP I Tunisian Prime Minister Habib Essid delivers a speech during a parliamentary session on February 4

Tunisia’s parliament approved a coalition cabinet on Thursday including secularists, Islamists and smaller parties, in the latest step in the country’s transition to full democracy following a 2011 uprising.

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The cabinet headed by Prime Minister Habib Essid, which includes members of the secularist Nidaa Tounes and the Islamist party Ennahda party, was approved by 166 members of the 217-seat parliament. Eight members of parliament abstained from the vote.

It is the first government to be formed since Tunisia held its first free presidential and parliamentary elections last year.

Essid’s new government will have to push through tough economic reforms demanded by Tunisia’s international lenders and continue a campaign against Islamist militants.

“Our priority will be to strengthen measures to combat extremism and strengthen security capabilities to confront terrorism and the protection of the democratic transition,” Essid said in parliament.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP, REUTERS)

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