By Tristan Dreisbach | Jan 26 2014cabinet , interior , Prime Minister
A day after declaring that he had failed in the same task, Prime Minister designate Mehdi Jomaa announced Sunday evening his choices to serve in a new caretaker government.
The most controversial name in the cabinet, Lotfi Ben Jeddou, will continue to serve as Minister of Interior despite some parties calling for him to be replaced.
The announcement was made less than a day after Jomaa was given a new 15-day mandate to form his government after failing to do so by the original deadline of midnight Saturday. It occurred as National Constituent Assembly members prepared to begin a final vote on the country’s new constitution.
Ben Jeddou had been the apparent sticking point as Jomaa negotiated with political leaders to find a cabinet that could win the acceptance of the assembly, which must approve the names before Jomaa can formally replace current Prime Minister Ali Laarayedh.
Laarayedh, of the Ennahdha party, has held the office since March 2013.
Jomaa has stood by Ben Jeddou, while some parties, including members of the leftist Popular Front coalition, have accused him of mishandling the case of assassinated politician Mohamed Brahmi’s death. Popular Front members protested against Ben Jeddou in downtown Tunis Saturday.
On Saturday, a compromise was discussed whereby Ben Jeddou would serve as a security advisor in the cabinet but not hold the Ministry of Interior portfolio, according to Jomaa adviser Youssef Hechmi.
Instead, Ben Jeddou will keep the post but Ridha Sfar will also serve as Minister of State for National Security.
The assembly’s vote is expected early next week after Laarayedh signs the new constitution along with the president and the speaker of the assembly.
The new government will be tasked with overseeing the country’s affairs as it prepares for new elections expected this year.
Other names among the 21 ministers in the proposed cabinet include Ghazi Jeribi as Minister of Defense, Mongi Hamdi as Minister of Foreign Affairs, and Hakim Ben Hammouda as Minister of Economy and Finance.