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Tunisian premier unveils new government line-up

Fethi Belaid, AFP | Tunisia's premier-designate Youssef Chahed speaks during a press conference to present his proposed new unity government list after he submitted it to the president on August 20, 2016 in Carthage, near the capital Tunis.
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Tunisian Prime Minister-designate Youssef Chahed named his new government on Saturday, appointing a former investment official as finance minister and keeping the previous foreign and defence ministers in their posts.


Chahed, named premier after his predecessor was dismissed by lawmakers in a no-confidence vote last month, had been in talks with the main secularist, leftist and Islamist parties over cabinet posts. His cabinet line-up must now go to parliament for a vote of approval.

A senior member of the secularist Nidaa Tounes and ally of President Beji Caid Essebsi, Chahed promised a cabinet capable of delivering economic reforms that evaded past prime ministers, but critics say he may not have the political capital to succeed.

"Our country is in a very delicate phase and we do not have the right to deceive the Tunisian people. I call on all Tunisians and the parties to support this government," Chahed told reporters at Carthage presidential palace.

Tunisia’s transition since a 2011 uprising overthrew autocrat Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali has been hailed as a model for the Arab world. But the North African state has struggled with Islamist militant violence and slow progress on economic reforms needed to create growth and jobs.

The new cabinet is inclusive, with members of Nidaa Tounes, Islamist party Ennahda, and smaller parties as well opposition figures, independents and ministers close to the powerful UGTT labour union, in a likely attempt to win backing for reforms.

Marouane El Abassi, a World Bank representative for Libya and economist educated in France, had been touted as new finance minister. But Chahed named Lamia Zribi, a former official for investment and development and a state bank director.

Keeping their posts in the cabinet were Interior Minister Hedi Majdou, Defense Minister Farhat Horchani and Foreign Affairs Minister Khemais Jhinaoui, a move seen to keep continuity in the delicate fight against Islamist militants.


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