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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
10TUNIS26 2010-01-14 17:42:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tunis
Cable title:  

APPOINTMENT OF NEW TUNISIAN FOREIGN MINISTER MAY

Tags:   PGOV PREL TU 
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1. (C) Summary: On the afternoon of January 14, TAP, the
official Tunisian press agency, announced the long-awaited
shuffle of President Ben Ali's cabinet. The most significant
appointment is that of Kamel Morjane, previously the Defense
Minister, to the post of Foreign Minister. Oussama Romdhani,
an important Embassy interlocutor and former exchange student
in the U.S., has been appointed Minister of Communications.
Also significant are Ben Ali's retentions of Mohammed
Ghannouchi as Prime Minister and Rafik Belhaj Kacem as
Interior Minister. Bechir Tekkari, a hardliner who had
served as Justice Minister since 1999, switched places with
Lazhar Bouini, Minister of Higher Education and Scientific
Research. End summary.



2. (C) Comment: Morjane has long been reputed to be the most
pro-American senior official in Ben Ali's government. As
Defense Minister, he has consistently been among the cabinet
members most accessible to the Embassy. Morjane has a strong
command of English. His appointment as Foreign Minister
suggests that Ben Ali may hope to strengthen ties to the
U.S., or at least halt the gradual stagnation witnessed in
recent years. It is also significant that Prime Minister
Ghannouchi has retained his seat. Broadly respected and
viewed as a capable and pragmatic technocrat, Ghannouchi has
served in the post since 1999. He was believed by many
observers to be tired and eager to accept a private sector
posting abroad. His retention suggests the Ben Ali
government is looking for continuity and stability as
speculation about the presidential succession increases
following Ben Ali's assumption of a fifth five year term in
October 2009. End comment.



3. (SBU) The changes to Ben Ali's cabinet are:

Minister of Foreign Affairs: Kamel Morjane (Former Minister
of National Defense)

Minister of Justice and Human Rights: Lazhar Bououni (Former
Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research)

Minister of National Defense: Ridha Grira (Former Minister
of State Properties and Real Estate)

Minister of Finance: Mohamed Ridha Chalghoum

Minister of Social Affairs, Solidarity and Tunisians Living
Abroad: Naceur El Gharbi

Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research: Bechir
Tekkari (Former Minister of Justice and Human Rights)

Minister of Tourism: Slim Tlati

Minister of State Properties and Real Estate: Zouheir
M,dhaffar

Minister of Women,s Affairs, Family, Children and Senior
Citizens: Bibya Chihi

Minister of Communication Technologies: Mohamed Naceur Ammar

Minister of Professional Training and Employment: Mohamed
Agrebi

Minister of Industry and Technology: Afif Chelbi (Former
Minister of Industry, Energy, Small and Medium-Sized
Companies)

Minister of Education: Hatem Ben Salem (formerly Minister of
Education and Vocational Training)

Minister of Communication: Oussama Romdhani (Romdhani was
appointed acting Minister of Communications in October 2009).

GRAY