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AlShahed… Youngest Prime Minister in Tunisia | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Tunisia’s PM-designate Youssef Chahed speaks during a news
conference after his meeting with Tunisia’s President Beji Caid
Essebsi in Tunisia. Photo: Reuters

When the Tunisian President Beji Qaid Sebsi surprised his people two months ago by announcing the initiative of composing a national unity government and said that the country needs a strong trauma, no one expected that he will nominate the Local Affairs Minister Youssef al-Shahed as Prime Minister in his 41th year.

The political observers point that Shahed’s experience in ruling is limited because he spent his career working in the private and education sectors on agriculture universities in France, while his political path doesn’t exceed two years during which he was appointed as the minister of local development and a state minister of agriculture.

However, others consider this lack of experience as a strength point and businessmen leaderships and organizations have greeted the nomination of the young businessman as the president of the upcoming cabinet. They also considered that his appointment as head of the executive authority will drive benefit for Tunisia.

Reconciliation in Tunisia

While some leaders in Nidaa Tounes party like its executive chairman Hafez Qaid Al Sebsi (the president’s son) and head of the parliamentary block Sufian Toubal have considered that the bet of parties that appointed Shahed to preside the new government mainly seek to omit the gap between the traditional political class and the youth in the country following the revolution that flared up in 2011 in line with the Arab Spring.

But would Youssef al-Shahed really play the role of the country’s saver and to lead the reconciliation among different parties in Tunisia? Would he be able to fulfill the dream of millions of poor, marginalized, and unemployed people who suffer from hard economic conditions six years after their revolution that called for “dignity”?

Former Secretary-General of Nidaa Tounes Mohsen Marzouk sees that Shahed can never be so. Even some of Shahed’s old friends, like Mustapha bin Ahmad from the Tunisian opposition consider that the new prime minister has a weak personality, which will deprive him from the opportunity of being a charismatic political leader who influence the youth class and gain the trust of both ruling and opposing parties in the country.
Man of intermediates

However, according to his supporters, one of Shahed’s strength points is that he is a “man of intermediates”, who has been previously chosen by Sebsi to lead the reconciliation among Tunisi’a parties. Shahed’s opponents also admit that the man is calm, modest, and keen to find consent among the different sides.

Stronger than Habib Essid

Away from the contrasting evaluations of Shahed’s personality and qualifications, the main question in the country is whether he will be stronger than his predecessor Habib Essid who lost the parliament’s trust on July 30.
The most dangerous blast

The leaders of biggest political parties have greeted the security and developmental priorities of the appointed prime minister. But remarkable concerns wind in the country whether he will be able to settle with the challenges that face Tunisia especially concerning terrorism that struck Libya and the European countries.

On another hand, many political experts expressed fear from attempts to topple Shahed’s government in no time because of the most dangerous social blast due to the accumulation of problems among youth and marginalized categories.