Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 21 September 2014

Tunisian PM in cabinet concessions

Tunisian prime minister Mohamed Ghannouchi has appointed independents to three key posts in the country's new interim Cabinet (AP)

Tunisia's prime minister has appointed independents to three key posts in the country's new interim Cabinet, removing ministers from the former ruling party in a major concession to demonstrators.

But prime minister Mohamed Ghannouchi, himself a member of the former regime of ousted President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, is staying on in the new Cabinet, despite demonstrators' calls for his ousting.

It was not immediately clear if naming independent ministers to the interior, foreign and defence Cabinet posts would succeed in quelling Tunisia's daily street protests demanding the removal of all ministers with ties to the country's former regime.

Mr Ben Ali, who had ruled Tunisia for 23 years, was driven from power by the anti-government protesters on January 14 and fled to Saudi Arabia.

The new interim Cabinet, Tunisia's second in 10 days, is a caretaker government intended to prepare for elections in six to seven months.

Mr Ghannouchi said the elections will be organised by an independent national commission and overseen by international observers to ensure the vote is "honest and transparent." He did not offer a date for the ballot.

The new Cabinet includes 12 new ministers and nine holdovers from the prior interim government that had been named on January 17, in addition to Mr Ghannouchi.

The newcomers include interior minister Farhat Rajhi, defence minister Abdelkrim Zbidi, and foreign affairs minister Ahmed Ounaies.

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