Tunisia- The expanded cabinet reshuffle in Tunisia included the return of senior ministers from the regime of former President Zine El Abidine ben Ali despite ongoing debate over national reconciliation.
The most prominent feature of the reshuffle was the appointment of senior security official Lotfi Brahim as interior minister, replacing former security minister Hadi Majdoub.
Brahim’s appointment received support from the ruling party, Nidaa Tounes, and the security syndicates. Lotfi is the former commander-in-chief of the Tunisian National Guard.
Former Defense Minister Abdelkarim Zbidi returned to his post that he had between 2011 and 2013.
Zbidi was known mainly as one of Ben Ali’s ministers, and he has held various portfolios during his reign, most notably Minister of Health in 2001 and Minister of Scientific Research in 2002.
For his part, leader of the opposition Democratic Progressive Party Naaman al-Ash criticized the new cabinet structure and said it included symbols of the former regime.
Tunisian Prime Minister Youssef Chahed also reassigned Ridha Chalghoum, a former finance minister close to the ruling Nidaa Tounes party, to the same position.
Radhouane Ayara, a former member of the dissolved Democratic Constitutional Rally Party, became the minister of transport, and Naziha Laabidi, a former member of the National Progressive Unionist (Tagammu) Party’s central committee, became the minister of women, family and children.
Hatem Ben Salem, a former diplomat and the last minister of education in Ben Ali’s regime, was named to fill the same post, which has been vacant since the dismissal of former minister Naji Jalul last April despite reservations by syndicate and opposition parties.
Chahed said Monday that his new cabinet will be a “war government that will fight terrorism and corruption.”
“We need to expand the circle of political consensus and national unity and this is the basis for our choices in the recent reform,” Chahed added in a speech to the Tunisian parliament.