Najla Bouden, Tunisia’s First Female Prime Minister

Tunisian President Kaies Saied on Wednesday announced Najla Bouden Ramadhane, a 63-year-old professor, to head a transitional government after the head of state sacked the previous prime minister and suspended parliament.

“The priority is to eradicate corruption, and end the chaos that has occurred in many institutions. There are honest women and men who work day and night, but there are also those who actually work for the opposite, namely trying to bring down the government,” said Saied.

Najla Ramadhane, who is a professor at a prestigious technical school, became Tunisia’s first female prime minister and one of the first women in the Arab world to hold the senior position.

President Kais Saied appointed Ramadhane in a surprise decision and ordered him to create a new cabinet as soon as possible, according to a statement from the president’s office.

Tunisia has no head of government and is in turmoil after the president froze the country’s parliament and seized executive power on July 25. The move notably ruled out the Ennahdha Party – the Islamist party that dominates parliament.

Tunisian President Kais Saied

Tunisian President Kais Saied

Critics have criticized the president’s move as a coup that threatens Tunisia’s fledgling democracy.

President Kais Saied said he acted instead to save the country, amid unrest due to financial problems and the government’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

It is not clear how much power Ramadhane has. Last week President Kais Saied issued a presidential decree reinforcing his already near-total power. He also announced plans to form a transitional government and new election rules. [em/jm]

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