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Senior member of Islamist party says nobody will leave government positions over Nidaa Tounes’ victory
Tunisia’s ruling Islamist party has named its first woman to the post of prime minister, amid turmoil and economic collapse after its election victory last year.
Charlene Chahed, a member of the moderate Islamist party Ennahda and the head of its farm bureau, was selected by the party’s executive committee to replace Habib Essid.
Chahed will join a leadership team led by Nidaa Tounes – a political rival led by a former independence fighter, Beji Caid Essebsi. That team took 82 seats in the assembly while Ennahda had 42, LNC had seven and others had three.
Rached Ghannouchi, leader of Ennahda, called Chahed a “well-qualified woman, who is a strong member of the party”, a spokesman said.
Tunisia adopted a secular constitution in 2014, paving the way for a shift in party politics after the overthrow of Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, the autocrat who ruled the country for 23 years.
Her election is not a shock, however, and most Tunisia watchers expected the largely secular Nidaa Tounes to make a woman its first woman prime minister.
As a matter of policy, parties in parliament and the government do not change their leaderships, and candidates had come from more widely dispersed political bases.
In the past two years there have been nine prime ministers in Tunisia, more than in all previous years combined.
Essebsi, a former ruling party leader, said this week his team would be its last.
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The political wrangling since a Nidaa Tounes party congress voted Essid to be the eighth premier to hold the job this year has sparked protest rallies, discontent among workers and criticism from foreign donors.
An influential Islamic militant, Mohamed Brahmi, was assassinated by gunmen in September, allegedly because of his close ties to Ennahda.
Forces loyal to Essebsi have taken control of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Sidi Bouzid office in the same city, where a Coptic Christian priest, Kareem Hichem, was killed in December.
In recent weeks Ennahda has denied being involved, but the government said it was serious.
No arrests have been made.