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Tunisia: ex-regime veteran asked to form cabinet

Habib Essid worked in the government of ousted Tunisian president Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali

Published: Updated:

Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi on Monday tasked former regime veteran Habib Essid to form new Cabinet, Al Arabiya News Channel reported.

Essid has a month, extendable once, to win approval for his line-up in parliament, in which the party holds only 86 of the 217 seats after October's landmark election.

Essid worked in the government of Tunisian autocrat Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali but was also interior minister after the 2011 revolution that ended Ben Ali's one-party rule and forced him into exile.

After a stint as interior minister, he served as security adviser to Islamist Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali.

“After consultations, both within the party and with other parties, there is consensus around the name of Habib Essid as candidate for the post of head of government,” Nida Tounes vice president Mohamed Ennaceur told reporters.

“He is an independent figure... who has skills and experience,” Ennaceur said, singling out his “knowledge of security matters.”

Since the revolution, Tunisia has seen a rise in Islamist extremism and tackling it will be one of the main challenges facing Essid's government.

The prime minister designate will need the support of other parties in parliament for his line-up.

The moderate Islamist Ennahda party, which holds the second largest number of seats, has not ruled out joining a coalition with Nida Tounes.

[With AFP]