Tunisian president says parliament to vote on government

Tunisia's President Kaies Saied says vote in parliament to be scheduled on proposed new government made up of political independents, submitted by designated PM Habib Jemli.

New cabinet must win majority support before taking office

TUNIS - Tunisian President Kais Saied has approved a proposed new government made up of political independents and given it to parliament to vote on, his office said on Thursday.

Designated prime minister Habib Jemli has named a former finance ministry official, Abderrahmen Khachtali, as finance minister and Tunisia's ambassador to Jordan, Khaled Shili, as foreign minister.

Jemli said in a televised statement that his proposed cabinet had majority support in the deeply fractured parliament elected nearly three months ago. In those elections, no party took more than a quarter of the seats, leading to hard negotiations to build a coalition that could pass a confidence vote.

The proposed new government also includes Imed Darouiche as defence minister, Soufiene Sliti as interior minister and Hedi Kediri as justice minister. The existing tourism minister, Rene Trabelsi, would stay in his post.

Saied's office had said late on Wednesday that more consultations were needed for the new government.

A vote in parliament will be scheduled by the speaker, Rached Ghannouchi, head of the moderate Islamist Ennahda party, which came first in the Oct. 6 election with 52 of the 217 seats and nominated Jemli as prime minister.

The president, an independent who won his own election a week later, then formally requested Jemli to build a coalition able to command a majority in parliament.

Jemli said his government would focus on the economy, a subject that has bedevilled all administrations in Tunisia since its 2011 revolution that introduced democracy.

The outgoing government has made painful cuts to reduce the public deficit, but the International Monetary Fund and other foreign lenders are seeking more fiscal reforms.

Anger at public services that are seen as worse than under Tunisia's pre-revolution autocrat Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali, who died in exile in September, has undermined the trust of some Tunisians in its political establishment.

Jemli struggled to bring rival parties together during the coalition talks, but said on Wednesday that all parties would support the new government "one way or another", without giving specifics.

Saied, who was presented by supporters during the presidential election as a man of great personal integrity, has urged action against state corruption but he has little direct control over policy except in matters of foreign affairs and security.