December 22, 2011 / 5:28 PM / 9 years ago

UPDATE 1-Islamists take Tunisia's foreign, justice top jobs

* Islamists take foreign and justice top jobs

* Independent named finance minister

* Assembly should approve nominees Friday (Adds details, background)

By Tarek Amara

TUNIS, Dec 22 (Reuters) - Tunisia’s Prime Minister-designate Hamadi Jbeli on Thursday named a fellow member of his moderate Ennahda Islamist party as foreign minister and made a non-partisan economist, a university professor, finance minister.

Addressing a Constituent Assembly elected in October polls won by Ennahda, Jbeli said he named Rafik Abdesslem as foreign affairs minister and Hussein Dimassi as finance minister.

“Tunisia has to be built by everyone, whether they are in the (coalition) government or the opposition, women or men,” said Jbeli, promising 25,000 public sector jobs and closer ties with Libya, Gulf Arab and European countries.

“Our priority is to pay moral and material tribute to the families of the martyrs and the wounded of the revolution,” he added. He said corruption would not be tolerated.

The new foreign minister, Abdesslem is an ex-analyst with Qatar-based television network al Jazeera and married to one of the daughters of Ennahda’s leader, Rachid Ghannouchi.

Two other members of Ennahda, Ali Laarayedh and Noureddine Bhiri were appointed to the interior and the justice ministries respectively. Laarayedh is a former political prisoner.

Tunisia electrified the Arab world when it overthrew its autocratic leader in January, but since then the caretaker authorities have been buffeted by social unrest, political turmoil and rows over the role of Islam in the political system.

Jbeli named an independent, Noureddine Khadmi, to be in charge of the sensitive religious affairs ministry.

Ennahda won the biggest number of seats in the October election for an assembly to choose a new caretaker government, rewrite the constitution and schedule fresh elections. It was forced to form a coalition with the smaller, secularist parties, Ettakatol and the Congress for the Republic (CPR).

Women accounted for two of the 30-member cabinet: Sihem Badi from CPR was named minister for the woman and independent Mamia Elbanna took the environment ministry.

Finance Minister Dimassi is a 63-year-old economics PhD holder: He was critical of ousted president Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali’s policies and an advocate of structural reforms for greater openness and transparency in financial transactions.

It was businessman Khayam Turki, of the left-wing Ettaktol party that is part of the Ennahda-led coalition government, who was initially lined up for Dimassi’s role.

In remarks carried by the official TAP news agency, Turki said he conceded the job after UAE-based National Holding raised mismanagement allegations against him relating to the time he held an executive position in the company. Turki denied any wrongdoing at the company he resigned from in 2008, TAP reported.

Fellow members of his party were nominated as education and social affairs ministers. An Ennahda member was appointed as minister for higher education.

Ennahda’s Samir Dilou was appointed in the newly-created role of minister for human rights and will also be the government spokesman. (Reporting By Tarek Amara, Writing by Souhail Karam; Editing by Matthew Jones)

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