Tunisian President Kais Saied has approved the new government selected by Tunisia’s first female prime minister, Najla Bouden, 11 weeks after the last one was liquidated. The opposition described the move as a coup.

On Monday, a statement issued by the presidency confirmed that “the president of the republic has issued a decree naming the head of government and its members,” before state television streamed the swearing-in ceremony.

Speaking at the event, Saied said that he is “confident we will move from frustration to hope,” but warned “all who will threaten the state.”

Bouden, who was named as the North African country’s first female prime minister at the end of September, said the new government’s main priority would be tackling corruption. 

The new PM has previously stressed the need for the cabinet to include qualified women and young talent who are able to navigate “this difficult period that Tunisia is going through,” news outlet El-Balad quoted her as saying.

Just a day before the formation of the new government, protests erupted in the capital of Tunis. Thousands of Tunisians protested against Saied’s dismissal of then-prime minister Hichem Mechichi, the suspension of parliament, and his assumption of executive authority on July 25 amid unrest over the “dysfunctional” political system and ailing healthcare infrastructure during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Opponents of Saied have described the almost total power grab that took place 11 weeks ago as a coup.

In August, Saied issued a formal decree “extending the exceptional measures… regarding the suspension of parliament and lifting of the parliamentary immunity of its MPs until further notice.”

The president had initially claimed that Article 80 of the country’s constitution allows him to use “exceptional measures” to expel the government if faced by an imminent threat. However, the directive actually states that, if implemented, the decision must be referred to Tunisia’s Constitutional Court, which was vacant.

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