Tunisia President announces Najla Bouden Romdhane as the first female Prime Minister

Najla Bouden Romdhane has become the first female Prime Minister of Tunisia. The move came two months after President Kais Saied seized wide-ranging power, dismissed the government of former PM Hichem Mechichi, and suspended the Parliament. 

First female PM of Tunisia
First female PM of Tunisia

The President of Tunisia Kais Saied on September 29, 2021, named geologist Najla Bouden Romdhane as the first female Prime Minister of Tunisia. The move came two months after the President seized wide-ranging powers.

According to the official statement from Tunisia President’s Office, “The President of the Republic Kais Saied charged Najla Bouden with forming a government as quickly as possible.”

President Kais Saied on July 25, 2021, had dismissed the government of Hichem Mechichi, suspended the Parliament, had lifted MP’s immunity, and took over the judiciary. Tunisia went into a political crisis after months of political deadlock in the face of a pressing economic crisis and the mounting deaths due to Coronavirus.

The President followed up last week with moves that allowed him to rule by decree. He also faced repeated calls to name a government.

Who is Najla Bouden?

Najla Bouden, who is of the same age as Mr. Saied at 63, is a former director at PromESsE which is a higher education reform project.

Bouden has held senior positions at the higher secondary education ministry of Tunisia.

Najla Bouden is originally from Kairouan. She is a French-educated geologist with a doctorate in geological engineering.

Bouden is also a lecturer at the National Engineering School of Tunisia.

Before being appointed as the Prime Minister of Tunisia, Bouden was assigned by the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research to implement programmes with World Bank.

She was appointed as Director-General in charge of quality at the Ministry of Higher Education.

Najla Bouden becomes first female PM of Tunisia: What will be the main mission?

The office of Kais Saied published a video of him meeting Najla Bouden in his office and charging her with presenting a cabinet in the coming hours or days.

The President also repeatedly emphasized the historic nature of the nomination of a woman and called it an honour for Tunisia and an hommage to the women of the country.

According to the President of Tunisia, the main mission of the new government led by Bouden will be to put an end to the chaos and corruption that have spread throughout many state institutions.

Political crisis in Tunisia: Background

Najla Bouden will be the 10th Prime Minister of the North African country since a 2011 uprising overthrew longtime dictator Zine El Abedine Ben Ali, which further sparked the Arab Spring revolts.

Tunisia has won international plaudits for its democratic transition. However, many Tunisians have seen only a little improvement in their lives and have become more disillusioned with corrupt and dysfunctional political processes in the country.

President Saied’s latest decision of dismissing the previous government has placed vast executive powers in the hands of the President, who will now himself head the cabinet. Saied’s ruling on September 22 had also extended the suspension of the Parliament.

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