Free Press Journal

Tunisia names old regime veteran to form new government


Tunis: Tunisia’s largest political party today chose an ex-interior minister with a long history with the old regime as its candidate for prime minister.

Habib Essid, 65, who has a month to form a coalition and name a Cabinet, occupied several posts under former dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, including in the Interior Ministry, which manages the police.

After the revolution that overthrew Ben Ali in 2011, he was the interior minister in one of the transitional governments.

Tunisia completed its political transition with a string of elections in the final months of 2014, with the most votes going to Nida Tunis, a party that includes many members of the old regime and has promised stability after a transition marked by unrest.

President Beji Caid Essebsi, who formed the party, was inaugurated last week and is another veteran of the pre-revolutionary system. He received Essid Monday and tasked him with forming a new government.

Nida Tunis must form a coalition with several other parties in the parliament to gain a majority. Tunisia’s moderate Islamists, who won elections immediately after the revolution in 2011, remain the second largest party in the parliament but are not expected to be part of the coalition.

Essid, who also held a number of posts in the Agriculture Ministry, received a Master’s in Agronomy from the University of Minnesota in 1971.