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Tunisia gets first woman prime minister amid political crisis

unisia president Kais Saied, flanked by the flag of Tunisia. (Photo: Thierry Monasse/Getty Images)

(Bloomberg) --Tunisia’s president picked a top education official as the North African nation’s new prime minister, two months after suspending parliament amid a political crisis.

By Jihen Laghmari and Souhail Karam
Sep 29, 2021, 12:34 PM
Word Count: 240

The office of President Kais Saied announced the appointment of Najla Bouden Romdhane in a statement Wednesday. Local media said she was the first woman to be named to the position in Tunisia’s history.

The decision came about a week after Saied assumed sweeping powers that allow him to govern by decree, a possible precursor to an attempt to amend the 2014 constitution that established a rare fully-fledged Arab democracy.

In taking power July 25, Saied alleged a bickering and corrupt political class was dragging Tunisia backward, as protests raged against a stagnant economy hit hard by Covid. The moderate Islamist Ennahda party, the biggest bloc in parliament, called it a coup but many ordinary Tunisians cheered the president on.

Key among investor concerns are stalled efforts to secure a new International Monetary Fund program and the drafting of budget proposals for this year and next.

Elected in 2019 on an anti-establishment platform, the unassuming professor-turned-president suspended parliament and sacked the prime minister in late July, raising the prospect that the birthplace of the Arab Spring was sliding back toward the autocratic rule that stifled freedom for decades before a wave of protests reshaped the region in 2011.

Roumdhane has worked at the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research, according to local broadcaster Mosaique FM.

© 2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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