Tunisian PM reshuffles cabinet amid security, economic challenges

Tunisian prime minister Habib Essid delivers a speech the Assembly of People's Representatives after Tuesday's attack which killed at least 13 people and forced the government to impose a state of national emergency in Tunis, Tunisia November 26, 2015. REUTERS/Zoubeir Souissi

TUNIS (Reuters) - Tunisian Prime Minister Habib Essid named 12 new ministers on Wednesday in a cabinet reshuffle he hopes will boost the effectiveness of his government as it battles jihadist violence and tries to revive the economy.

Tunisia has been under a state of emergency since an Islamic State suicide bomber attacked presidential guards in November in the capital Tunis following two previous militant attacks on foreign tourists that have damaged the country’s economy.

Essid named new ministers of the interior, justice and foreign affairs, among others. He gave no reason for the changes but late last year he said he would replace ministers to increase the efficiency of his government.

Tunisia, praised as a model for democratic transition since its 2011 revolt ousted autocrat Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali, has mostly avoided the violent turmoil of other “Arab Spring” countries which also toppled long-standing rulers.

But an attack by jihadist gunmen on the Bardo museum in Tunis in March, and a gun attack on foreign tourists at a beach hotel in Sousse resort in June, have left the government struggling to find the best strategy to counter militants.

In a statement Essid’s office named Hedi Majdoub as the new interior minister and a former presidential adviser, Khemais Jinaou, as foreign minister.

More than 3,000 Tunisians have left to fight for Islamic State and other groups in Iraq and Syria and increasingly in neighboring Libya. The government has cracked down on militants at home but has faced criticism about how security forces are protecting human rights.

Reporting by Tarek Amara; Writing by Patrick Markey; Editing by Gareth Jones