New Tunisia premier forms Cabinet without any Islamists

New Tunisian Prime Minister Habib Essid announces a new list of Cabinet ministers during a press conference in Tunis on Jan 23, 2015. -- PHOTO: AFP
New Tunisian Prime Minister Habib Essid announces a new list of Cabinet ministers during a press conference in Tunis on Jan 23, 2015. -- PHOTO: AFP

TUNIS (AFP) - New Tunisian Prime Minister Habib Essid formed a Cabinet on Friday, handing many ministries to Nidaa Tounes, the leading bloc in parliament, but none to the Islamist party Ennahda, which led the previous government.

Essid, a former interior minister, was tasked with forming a new government earlier this month by President Beji Caid Essebsi, who won Tunisia's first free presidential election in December.

His name had been put forward by Essebsi's Nidaa Tounes, which won parliamentary polls in October. Ennahda came second.

"This government is a government of national competences that comprises politicians... civil society figures and people who have experience and expertise," Essid told reporters.

Speaking after submitting his team to Essebsi, Essid said he had formed the Cabinet following consultations with political party chiefs and civil society figures.

The party's secretary-general, Taieb Baccouche, was named foreign minister.

The ministries of health and transport also went to Nidaa Tounes.

The ministry of tourism, a key sector that has struggled since the 2011 revolt that ousted long-time strongman Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, was given to a party headed by the owner of one of Tunis' two major football clubs.

The Free Patriotic Union of wealthy businessman Slim Riahi, who owns Club Africain, was also given the ministry of sports and youth.

Riahi's party came third in the polls.

The Cabinet must still be approved by parliament.