Tunisian President Essebsi appoints Chahed as new prime minister

COMPILED FROM WIRE SERVICES
ISTANBUL
Published 03.08.2016 15:35
Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi (R) appoints local affairs minister Youssef Chahed (L) as the country's new PM-delegate tasked with forming a new unity cabinet at Carthage Palace on the outskirts of Tunis, on August 3, 2016. (AFP Photo)
Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi (R) appoints local affairs minister Youssef Chahed (L) as the country's new PM-delegate tasked with forming a new unity cabinet at Carthage Palace on the outskirts of Tunis, on August 3, 2016. (AFP Photo)

Tunisia's President Beji Caid Essebsi named Youssef Chahed as prime minister on Wednesday after parliament ousted Habib Essid in a vote of no-confidence because of his handling of economic reforms and security.

A relatively young politician, Chahed entered Tunisia's political arena following a 2011 popular uprising that toppled longstanding President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali.

A junior minister in Essid's government, Chahed, 41, is an agricultural sciences specialist and academic who has taught in France and Tunisia, and also a senior member in the secular Nidaa Tounes party.

Chahed helped found Tunisia's Tareeq al-Wasat ("Middle Way") party in the summer of 2011. The party was later merged with the centrist Nidaa Tounes party, which has led the government since 2014.

Chahed's appointment comes four days after parliament voted to withdraw confidence from the government of former Prime Minister Habib Essid.

Essebsi had been pushing for a new national unity government in an attempt to overcome political infighting in the ruling coalition and more efficiently tackle economic reforms and the threat of Daesh militants.

"The president has put me in charge of the national unity government. This is a message of confidence for young people also," Chahed told reporters. "In this delicate time we need a lot of audacious decisions."

Chahed dismissed reports he had any family ties to Essebsi, responding to opposition charges that he was a distant relative of the president. Local media and party sources have also said he has family ties.

Nidaa Tounes and the Ennahda party, both part of the ruling coalition, control a majority of the seats in parliament, which means Chahed's nomination is likely to be accepted by lawmakers when they vote on his approval.

Since its 2011 revolution to oust Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, Tunisia has grown into a democracy praised as a model for the region. But militant attacks have tested the government and political infighting has slowed economic progress needed to ease social tensions especially among ranks of young employed.

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