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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 16 December 2018

Tunisia's Chahed names new cabinet after tensions

The cabinet also includes the newly created post of economic reforms minister, as the premier tries to push ahead with tough public wage bill reforms and a pension system overhaul

Tunisian prime minister Youssef Chahed reshuffled his cabinet on September 6, 2017 after weeks of infighting over posts, replacing the key ministers of interior and defence. Mohamed Messara/EPA
Tunisian prime minister Youssef Chahed reshuffled his cabinet on September 6, 2017 after weeks of infighting over posts, replacing the key ministers of interior and defence. Mohamed Messara/EPA

Tunisian prime minister Youssef Chahed on Wednesday announced a major cabinet reshuffle after weeks of infighting over posts, replacing the key ministers of interior and defence.

The cabinet also includes the newly created post of economic reforms minister, as Mr Chahed tries to push ahead with tough public wage bill reforms and a pension system overhaul meant to improve Tunisia's public spending and deficits in line with IMF demands.

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"I've decided on a government reshuffle," Mr Chahed told reporters, announcing the new line-up after talks with president Beji Caid Essebsi. The prime minister has been in power for just over a year.

A former defence minister, Abdelkrim Zbidi, returns to the post in place of academic Farhat Horchani, while Lotfi Brahem, an ex-head of the national guard, replaces Hedi Majdoub in the interior minister role.

Cabinet head Ridha Chalghoum, a former finance minister close to the ruling Nidaa Tounes party, returns to the key position.

Mr Chahed named one of his economic advisers, Taoufik Rajhi, who is a member of the Islamist Ennahda party, to the new post of economic reforms minister.

Speculation had been rife for several weeks over new faces in Mr Chahed's government following his consultations with political parties and organisations such as the powerful labour union UGTT.

Six years since its 2011 uprising against autocrat Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, Tunisia has been held up as a model after avoiding the violence that troubled other nations after their "Arab Spring" revolts. But successive governments have struggled to enact economic reforms amid political infighting.