Tunisia leader picks first woman prime minister

Filed on September 29, 2021

President Kais Saied asks Najla Bouden Romdhane to quickly propose a cabinet

Tunisian President Kais Saied named Najla Bouden Romdhane, university engineer with World Bank experience, as prime minister on Wednesday nearly two months after he came to power.

Romdhane, Tunisia’s first woman prime minister, was responsible for implementing World Bank projects at the education ministry, but she has little experience in government.

Speaking in a video published online, Saied said her appointment honoured Tunisian women and asked her to propose a cabinet in the coming hours or days “because we have lost a lot of time”.

The new government should respond to the demands and dignity of Tunisians in all fields, including health, transport and education, he added.

Saied dismissed the previous prime minister, suspended parliament and assumed wide executive powers in July and has been under growing domestic and international pressure to form a new government.

Last week he brushed aside much of the constitution, saying he could rule by decree and control the government himself during an emergency period that has no defined endpoint.

The new government will have to move very quickly to seek financial support for the budget and debt repayments after Saied put talks with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on hold.

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