The Tunisian president on Wednesday named geologist Najla Bouden as the country’s first-ever female prime minister-designate, two months after assuming sweeping powers.
“The President of the Republic Kais Saied has instructed Najla Bouden to form a government as quickly as possible,” indicates a statement from his cabinet posted on Facebook.
Saied on July 25 fired the government of Hichem Mechichi, suspended parliament, lifted the immunity of deputies and seized the judiciary, after months of political stalemate in the face of a pressing economic crisis and rising deaths due to coronavirus.
He continued last week with measures allowing him to rule by decree.
He has faced repeated calls to appoint a government.
Saied’s office released a video of him meeting Bouden in his office and accusing him of presenting a cabinet “in the hours or days to come.”
He repeatedly underlined the “historic” nature of the nomination of a woman, qualifying her as “honor for Tunisia and homage to Tunisian women”.
Saied said the main mission of the new government would be “to end the corruption and chaos which has spread to many state institutions”.
Bouden will be the tenth Tunisian prime minister since a 2011 uprising that toppled longtime dictator Zine El Abedine Ben Ali, sparking the Arab Spring uprisings.
The country has won international praise for its democratic transition, but many Tunisians have seen little improvement in their lives and lost their illusions in the face of a dysfunctional and corrupt political process.
Saied’s decisions have placed vast executive powers in the hands of the president, who will head the cabinet himself.
His decisions of September 22 also extended the suspension of Parliament.
Najla Bouden, the same age as Saied at 63, is a former director of PromESsE, a higher education reform project, and has held senior positions in the Tunisian Ministry of Higher Education.
Originally from Kairouan, she is a geologist of French training, holder of a doctorate in geological engineering and lecturer at the national engineering school of Tunisia.
© 2021 AFP