Magharebia (Washington DC)

Tunisia to Form New Govt

Tunis — Consultations started Monday (December 23rd) to form a slimmed-down government of independent technocrats to lead Tunisia until elections.

The new cabinet for premier-designate Mehdi Jomaa will comprise 15 competent and neutral ministers, Tunisian General Labour Union (UGTT) chief Houcine Abassi said.

According to a memo prepared by the UGTT on Saturday, the new government will focus on restoring confidence to economic actors, confronting terrorism, and supporting employment and provincial development.

Prime Minister Ali Larayedh's government is expected to tender its resignation within a fortnight.

And the new govenment must be up and running "within one month", Tunisian President Moncef Marzouki said last week.

"The new interim government will tend to security, stimulate the economy and prepare all necessary circumstances so Tunisia can hold the election as soon as possible to end a phase and lay the foundations for a new era," Marzouki said in a speech marking the third anniversary of the Tunisian revolution.

For his part, Prime Minister-designate Jomaa said that young people would have the lion's share in the new government.

A number of young, well-educated professionals have reportedly offered to work in Jomaa's new government without remuneration.

Now that the political crisis has been defused and consultations for a new government are under way, Tunisians have regained some optimism about the future.

A new survey from Sigma Conseil released on Friday confirms the positive change.

According to the poll conducted last week, more than sixty per cent of respondents were optimistic about the chances for Jomaa's new government.

"Agreeing on a name to head the government and on the independence of its members is a positive step that has restored hope to us about resolving all other outstanding controversial files," said Ali Kammoun, 41, a private company employee. "This will help stabilise the country and improve general conditions."

"I'm optimistic about the new government, which will comprise technocrats, meaning it will be working for the sake of this country not parties. We'll try to back and support it," 23-year-old finance student Imen Guediche said.

In his turn, Mohamed Ben Arbi, a construction materials trader, said, "We expect the new government's programme to focus on restoring confidence in Tunisia's economy and cutting the prices that definitely burden citizens."

"Putting an end to terrorist threats must be the first task of the new government," housewife Habiba Khiari, 33, told Magharebia.

"We just want security and stability so we can be reassured about the future of this country," she added.

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