Biography: On 12 December 2011, Tunisia’s National Constituent Assembly elected Moncef Marzouki as interim president, marking the start of the second transition phase following the overthrow of Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali. Marzouki founded the opposition group Congress for the Republic Party in 2001, only to see it banned in 2002, forcing him to move its activities to France. He returned to Tunisia last year after Ben Ali fled to Saudi Arabia. In March, his party was allowed to participate in the assembly elections. It secured 30 seats, the second largest won in the polls, held on 23 October. Before entering politics, Marzouki founded the National Committee for the Defence of Prisoners of Conscience in 1993. He later resigned saying it had been infiltrated by government supporters and set up the National Committee for Liberties. Marzouki studied medicine at the University of Strasbourg in France, graduating in 1973.
Contact Tel: (+216) 71 346 001
Position: Prime minister
Biography: Hamadi Jebali is secretary-general of the Ennahda movement, a moderate Islamist party. He was appointed prime minister on 14 December 2011, following his party’s success in the election. The party was legalised in the wake of the Tunisian revolution of January 2011, having being banned under the Ben Ali regime. He was previously director and editor-in-chief of Al-Fajr, Ennahda’s former weekly newspaper. In November 1990, Jebali was sentenced to a year in prison by a military court on the charge of defaming a judicial institution after publishing an article critical of the use of military courts. He was accused in 1992, along with 170 other Ennahda sympathisers, of attempting to overthrow Ben Ali to establish an Islamic state. Jebali was sentenced in August 1992 to 16 years in prison. He has bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering and a master’s degree in photovoltaic engineering.
Contact Tel: (+216) 71 565 400
Position: Foreign affairs minister
Biography: Rafik Abdessalem is a member of the Ennahda party. He is the son-in-law of Rached Gannouchi, Ennahda’s party leader. Abdessalem was a member of Ennahda’s executive bureau in charge of media between 2001 and 2007 when the party worked in exile. He then became a member of Ennahda’s advisory council until the party returned to Tunisia. Prior to his current role as foreign affairs minister, Abdessalem worked as head of research and studies for the Al-Jazeera Centre for Studies in Doha. From 1987, he was a member of the executive office of the Tunisian Students General Union. He then moved to Morocco in 1990, where he completed a degree in philosophy at Mohammed V University in Rabat. He subsequently moved to the UK to study for a doctorate in politics and international relations at the University of Westminster. In London, he founded the Maghreb Centre for Research and Translation.
Contact Tel: (+216) 71 847 500
Position: Justice minister
Biography: Noureddine Bhiri is another Ennahda party member in Jebali’s interim government and he holds the post of justice minister. Bhiri is a member of the party’s executive bureau, responsible for managing its electoral list in the polls. Bhiri joined Ennahda in 1987, when the party was banned by the government of President Habib Bourguiba. He was imprisoned from February to September 1987, only two months before Ben Ali came to power. Bhiri is a lawyer in Tunis’ Court of Appeal. He was also a member of several civil groups, which fought to defend the independence of the judiciary under the Ben Ali regime. He is now a member of an association supporting the Syrian revolution and another association against the normalisation of relations with Israel. In 2006, Bhiri wrote an article for a prominent Tunisian blog criticising US and Israeli policy towards the process of democratisation in the Palestinian territories.
Contact Tel: (+216) 71 561 440
Position: Tourism minister
Biography: At 39 years old, Elyes Fakhfakh is one of the youngest members of the new Tunisian cabinet, chosen to lead one of the most important ministries. His mandate is to revive the country’s travel industry. Tourism accounts for almost 400,000 jobs and about 7 per cent of Tunisia’s gross domestic product. He is a member of the centre-left secular political party Ettakatol, which came third in Tunisia’s parliamentary elections, winning 21 seats. He is graduate of the University of Insa Lyon in France. Fakhfakh began his career in 1999, working for French oil major Total. In 2004, he moved to Poland as director of operations after the firm established a new industrial site in the country. Fakhfakh returned to Tunisia in 2006 to apply his international experience as deputy director general of the local firm Cortel, which manufactures car components, a position he still holds.
Contact Tel: (+216) 71 341 077
Mustapha Ben Jaafar
Position: President of National Constituent Assembly
Biography: Seventy-one-year-old Mustapha Ben Jaafar, the founder and secretary-general of the centre-left Ettakatol party was elected president of the constituent assembly on 22 November 2011. He studied radiology in France before returning to Tunisia in 1970 to join the University of Tunis’ medical faculty. In 1976, he co-founded the National Council of Liberties with former members of the Destour Socialist Party, the then governing party. He joined the Movement of Socialist Democrats (MSD) in 1978 and went on to hold the position of secretary-general. By 1994, Ben Jaafar had become disillusioned with the MSD and founded the Democratic Forum of Liberties and Labor, known as Ettakatol. Following the 2011 revolution, Ben Jaafar was appointed minister of public health, but he resigned to protest against the retention of ministers who had served in Ben Ali’s government.
Contact Tel: (+216) 71 320 258