Tunisians assess new government
By Iheb Ettounsi for Magharebia in Tunis – 03/02/11
Interim President Fouad Mebazaa on Wednesday (February 2nd) appointed new governors in all 24 regions of Tunisia, the latest in a series of measures taken by the National Unity Government to cut ties to ousted president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.
"This [new] government came as a result of serious and extensive deliberations among all the political and national groups as well as civil society institutions until a consensus was reached," Prime Minister Mohamed Ghannouchi said.
Members of Ben Ali's Constitutional Democratic Rally (RCD) party are gone. Controversial figures such as former Defence Minister Ridha Grira, former Interior Minister Ahmed Friaa and former Foreign Minister Kamel Morjan were all removed. They were largely criticised by labour unions, left wing groups and the Tunisian people.
"The new government is an interim, transitional government whose responsibility lies in enabling the country to transition into democracy as well as providing the requisite conditions to organise the upcoming presidential elections," the prime minister said.
The provisional administration includes 12 new ministerial appointments, most of which went to technocrats and heads of international corporations.
"This will allow the people to voice their opinion in all transparency and freedom. All provisions will be made so that these elections will represent the will of the Tunisian people," Ghannouchi said.
Some rejected this new government, calling for Ghannouchi to step down because of his links to Ben Ali.
"Our mission today is to purge dictatorship after the Tunisian people toppled the dictator and our worst enemy at this point is dictatorship," Hamma Hammami, chairman of the Tunisian Workers' Communist Party, said.
Jaloul Azouna, of the Party of People's Unity, said he regarded the current government as lacking in credibility and trust.
"The new formation of the government and the speech by Prime Minister Mohamed Ghannouchi, represents a positive message that reflects a strong engagement with the general mood," said Maya Jribi, Secretary-General of the Progressive Democratic Party. She also stressed the reform agenda that was declared by the government after the fall of the regime of Ben Ali.
The Ettajdid party said the new government "includes in its folds several qualified, honest and spotless national figures that were not complicit with the former regime".
The new health minister, Democratic Forum for Labour and Liberties Chairman Mostafa Ben Jaafar, previously refused to participate in the first interim government because it included RCD members. But when it came to replacing the former regime members, Ben Jaafar was quoted as saying that "Mohammed Ghannouchi simply asked me hours before the formation of the government whether I wanted the Ministry of Health."
The chairman of the Tunisian Patriotic and Democratic Labour Party, Abdul Razak Gilani, said he urged Tunisians to get acquainted with political competition and opposition.
"The government in its new formation, even if it came at a later stage, is a positive step after eliminating symbols of the previous regime and has been responsive to the demands of the Tunisian people and the political elite of the country," said Mokhtar Trifi, Chairman of the Tunisian League for the Defence of Human Rights (LTDH).
The biggest syndicate in the country, the Tunisian General Labour Union (UGTT), also expressed it support for the new government. The union previously opposed the first interim government on grounds it included members of the former regime.
"The government has responded to the people and the opposition's demands," Iskander, a businessman, told Magharebia. "What else do you want? We have to go back to work and wait for the elections. Then the Tunisian people can decide."
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