TUNISIA – Tunisia’s president appointed a new prime minister on Wednesday amid growing criticism of the steps he has taken over the past two months to concentrate power in his own hands.
President Qays Sayed appointed Nayla Buden Romdhan Director General of the Ministry of Higher Education, who leads a World Bank-funded program designed to modernize the country’s higher education system. She was the first woman to hold office. The appointments come more than two months after the suspension of parliament, the sacking of the prime minister and the seizure of power in what opponents called a “coup”.
Mr Saeed promised to reinstate the Prime Minister in July and the appointment technically fulfilled that promise but did little to prevent a rapid rise to power. The new prime minister, a former professor of geology at the National School of Engineering, appears to have little political experience, so is unlikely to pose a major threat to the president.
Mr Side is in charge of Tunisia, he has the power to govern by decree, draft laws unilaterally, propose changes to the political system and suspend parts of the constitution. While parliament was closed and the judiciary, military and security services under his control, he arrested many political opponents and imposed travel bans and property deposits on businessmen and judges.
All this happened with the blessing of the majority of the Tunisian people, who welcomed Said’s takeover on July 25 as the only chance to overcome the country’s political deadlock and get out of the economic and health crisis.
But months later, without Saeed coming up with a clear plan for political or economic reform, Tunisians are becoming increasingly concerned about the threat to their new democracy, the Arab Spring, that swept the region a decade ago. he was the only one out of protest.
On Sunday at least 2,000 people protested the rally and called on them to end their “coup”. He faces increasing criticism from political parties and the media, including some who support him.
Sayed said on July 25 that his action was a temporary response to the state of emergency in Tunisia and that he would appoint a new head of government within 30 days but then extend his “emergency measures”. Despite increasing local and international pressure, he maintained the suspension of parliament and refused negotiations.
With the appointment of Tunisia’s first female Prime Minister, the President can hope to counter the Tunisian feminist perception that he does not support full gender equality because it opposes an equal inheritance for women and men.
But now that Sayed has concentrated power in his own hands, he will likely have less power than the previous Prime Minister and will do little more than run the day-to-day government.
The constitution gives the Prime Minister the task of selecting the cabinet, but Sayeed himself said last week that constitutional provisions would no longer apply.
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