Tunisian PM succumbs to pressure, names new ministers

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Tunisian Prime Minister Mohammed Ghannouchi Thursday night reshuffled the country’s week-old transitional government. Senior ministers who served under the deposed president, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, have been sent packing. The operation was carried out under intense negotiations after unrelenting pressure from protesters.

The interim government of Tunisia has succumbed to pressure from demonstrators after a four day uninterrupted protest outside the offices of the country’s Prime Minister, Mohammed Ghannouchi, against the inclusion of former ministers from the Ben Ali regime in the interim government.

The new government was formed after “consultations with all political parties and elements of civil society who agreed to participate,” Ghannouchi said. “This is a provisional government with a clear mission to help the country’s transition to democracy. Its mission is to organize elections for the people to choose freely.” He promised that the elections would be held “under the supervision of an independent commission and international observers to ensure transparency.” He finally called on Tunisians’ to “return to work.”

But after the explosion of joy that followed the announcement, the crowd gathered outside the offices of the Prime Minister continues to express its determination to have Mohammed Ghannouchi himself removed from office. Mohammed Ghannouchi who served as Prime Minister under the Ben Ali regime for eleven years was described by a protester who spoke to AFP as being a “gang leader”.

Mohammed Ghannouchi and two government ministers, also from the Ben Ali regime, namely, Mohamed Atif Chelbi and Mohamed Nouri Jouini, were maintained to handle technical positions: Industry and Planning, respectively. However, the key ministries of Interior, Defence, Finance and Foreign Affairs, were entrusted to technocrats and independent figures without any political affiliations.

List of new interim ministers

The composition of the new government

Prime Minister Mohamed Ghannouchi

Minister of National Defence: Abdelkarim Zebidi

Foreign Minister Ahmed Ouneies

Interior Minister: Farhat Rajhi

Minister of Justice: Lazhar Karoui Chebbi

Religious Affairs Minister: Laroussi Mizouri

Minister of Regional Development and Local: Ahmed Najib Chebbi

Education Minister: Taieb Baccouch

Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research: Ahmed Brahim

Minister of Health: Mrs Habiba Zehi

Minister of Trade and Tourism: Mehdi Houas

Minister of Social Affairs: Mohamed Naceur

Minister of Agriculture and Environment: Mokhtar Jallel

Minister of Planning and International Cooperation: Mohamed Nouri Jouini

Minister of Industry and Technology: Mohammad Afif Chelbi

Minister of Finance: Jelloul Ayed

Minister of Culture: Ezzedine Bach Chaouech

Minister of Women Affairs: Mrs Lilia Laabidi

Minister of Transport and Public Works: Yassin Ibrahim

Minister of Training and Employment: Said Aydi

Minister of Youth and Sports: Mohamed Aloulou

Minister for the Prime Minister responsible for economic and social reforms: Elyes Jouini

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