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Tunisia: Prime minister names cabinet loyal to Saied

Appointments include Taoufik Charfeddine who had been fired by former Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi
Earlier this month thousands of supporters of Tunisian President Kais Saied came out to support him in Tunis (Reuters)

Tunisia named a new government on Monday, several weeks after a power grab by Tunisian President Kais Saied, which saw him oust the country's prime minister and suspend its parliament. 

Prime Minister Najla Bouden, appointed by Saied last month, confirmed the appointments and said the government's top priorities would be to tackle corruption. 

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"I am confident we will move from frustration to hope... I warn all who will threaten the state," said Saied at the ceremony.

Bouden did not declare how she will tackle the country's continuing economic woes.  

Among her new appointments include Samir Saiid, a banker, as economy and planning minister and Taoufik Charfeddine as interior minister. 

Some of Bouden's appointments have links to Saied, including Charfeddine, who was dismissed by former Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi because of his loyalty to the president.   

Bouden kept the foreign minister unchanged during the ceremony, which was broadcast live with Saied present. 

Saied's power grab has stirred controversy in the birthplace of the Arab Spring, with thousands gathering in protests over the past three weekends to oppose his rule. 

On 25 July, after months of political stalemate, Saied sacked the prime minister, suspended parliament and granted himself judicial powers, a move he followed in September with measures that effectively allowed him to rule by decree.

Saied has said he will host a national dialogue to alleviate Tunisia's political divisions with western donors calling for an inclusive process to end the crisis and avert a collapse in Tunisia's public finances.

Protests against Saied

On Sunday, thousands gathered in Tunis to protest against the president's seizure of power, denounced by the opposition as "a coup".

"We are against the coup... We reject the speech of division," said Jaouhar Ben Mbarek, a prominent activist and main organiser of protests against Saied, saying they must be loyal to those killed in the 2011 revolution.

Ben Mbarek said earlier last week that security forces "besieged" his home following his calls for protests.  

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The Sunday march along Habib Bourguiba Avenue was blocked by a heavy police presence, and despite some protesters throwing plastic bottles there were no clashes.

Sunday marked the third weekend in a row in which protesters have rallied in Tunisia's capital either in support of or opposition to a string of actions made by the president since late July.

More than 5,000 marched on Sunday, according to AFP, despite a heavy police presence, checkpoints and security screenings of demonstrators. Local journalists claimed that the total number of people gathering would have been higher if not for restrictions by authorities.

In May, Middle East Eye revealed a secret document was being circulated recommending Saied invoke Article 80 of the constitution and seize control of the country, citing emergency powers.

He did exactly that in July, claiming the coronavirus pandemic and the economic situation had become so dire that he needed to freeze parliament and dismiss the government, as well as launch an anti-corruption drive.

Since July, several outspoken MPs and journalists who opposed Saied's measures have been arrested, placed under house arrest or referred to military investigations. 

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