December 13, 2011 / 12:52 PM / 7 years ago

UPDATE 1-Tunisia leftists to get finance portfolio-sources

* Sources say Islamists to get foreign, interior ministries

* Defence minister ‘to keep job’ in new cabinet

* New president swears oath of office (Adds other cabinet appointments, president sworn in)

By Tarek Amara

TUNIS, Dec 13 (Reuters) - The finance minister in Tunisia’s new coalition government will be nominated by a left-leaning party while the Islamist Ennahda party will hold the foreign affairs and interior portfolios, two coalition sources told Reuters.

They said Ennahda be interior minister, and Ennahda’s Rafik Abdesslem, an analyst and its two smaller coalition partners had agreed that the finance ministry would go to the left-wing Ettakatol party. The name of the candidate was not confirmed.

The sources said Ennahda official and former political prisoner Ali Larayedh would be interior minister, and Ennahda’s Rafik Abdesslem, an analyst with Qatar-based television network al Jazeera, would be foreign minister.

Abdesslem is married to one of the daughters of Ennahda’s leader, Rachid Ghannouchi.

Tunisia became the birthplace of the “Arab Spring” uprisings in January when protests forced its autocratic president to flee. In its first democratic election in October, it handed power to the Islamists and their coalition partners.

Tunisia’s newly-installed President Moncef Marzouki, has said he will ask Ennahda secretary general Hamadi Jbeli to be prime minister on Wednesday. After that, Jbeli is likely to formally announce his cabinet line-up within a few days.

DEFENCE MINISTER STAYS

The sources, senior officials from two different parties in the coalition who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that the serving defence minister, Abdelkrim Zbidi, would keep his job.

He has held the post since shortly after the Jan. 14 revolution. Many Tunisians respect Zbidi for the military’s role in helping keep order on the streets while staying out of politics.

The sources said Ennahda official Samir Dilou would be given the newly-created role of minister for human rights while the justice ministry would go to another Ennahda official, party spokesman Nourdine Bhiri.

Mohamed Abbou, one of the leaders of third coalition partner the Congress for the Republic, will be minister for administrative reform, the source said. A lawyer, Abbou served time in prison for opposing ousted president Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali.

Marzouki, himself a former political prisoner under Ben Ali, was chosen earlier this week as Tunisian president.

He will keep the job, the second most powerful state position after the prime minister, for a year until the constitution is rewritten and fresh elections are held.

Marzouki has already brought an informal style to a post whose holders have traditionally been straight-laced and kept their distance from ordinary people.

At his swearing-in ceremony on Tuesday, he cried as he addressed members of the interim parliament. Later, he wore a traditional North African hooded cloak, or barnous, at a ceremony to take over from outgoing president Fouad Mebazza. (Writing by Christian Lowe; Editing by Rosalind Russell)

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