Tunisian PM-designate forms cabinet without any Ennahda ministers


No party in Tunisia's assembly has an outright majority, leaving parties to bargain for key government posts

Tunisian Prime Minister Habib Essid presents his cabinet to President Beji Caid Essebsi in Carthage Palace (AFP)
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Last update: 
Friday 13 February 2015 10:00 UTC

New Tunisian Prime Minister Habib Essid formed a cabinet Friday, handing many ministries to Nidaa Tounes, the leading bloc in parliament, but none to the Islamist party Ennahda, which led the previous government.

On Friday, Essid told reporters he had decided on the government without any posts for Ennadha after negotiations between Nidaa Tounes and other smaller parties in the country's parliament, Reuters reported. He also said he consulted civil society figures.

In last October's landmark parliamentary elections, Nidaa Tounes won with 85 seats out of 217. Ennahda came in second with 69 with more than 10 other, smaller parties also taking seats.

Tunisia's assembly, in which no party has an outright majority, must still approve Essid's choices.

President Baji Caid Essebsi, who won Tunisia's first free presidential election in December, tasked Essid with forming the new government earlier this month.

Essid was a top security official under ousted strongman President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. After the 2011 revolution that topped Ben Ali, Essid was kept on, acting as interior minister under a transitional government formed by Essebsi. He then served as a security adviser to Prime Minister Hamdi Jebali, the Secretary-General of Tunisia's Ennahda party who led the country until March 2013.

"This government is a government of national competences that comprises politicians . . . civil society figures and people who have experience and expertise," Essid told reporters on Friday.

Farhat Hacheni was named as defence minister; Lassaad Zarrouk, an economist and director of an insurance company, was named finance minister.

Essid named Farhat Hacheni as defense minister and handed the finance portfolio to Lassaad Zarrouk, an independent economist and director of an insurance company. Taieb Baccouche, a leading member of Nidaa Tounes, will be foreign minister.

Nidaa Tounes' secretary general, Taieb Baccouche, was named foreign minister. 

The ministries of health and transport also went to Nidaa Tounes.

The ministry of tourism, a key sector that has struggled since the 2011 revolt that ousted long-time strongman Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, was given to a party headed by the owner of one of Tunis's two major football clubs.

The Free Patriotic Union of wealthy businessman Slim Riahi, who owns Club Africain, was also given the ministry of sports and youth.

Riahi's party came third in the polls.

Samir Ben Amor, a Tunisian lawyer and member of the Congress for the Republic party which lost seats in October's elections, took to social media to criticise Essid's line up, according to Tunisia's Business News website.

In Arabic, 'essid' is a word for lion. On his Facebook page, Amor said, "The lion has given birth to a mouse."