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Explainer: Who is Ahmed Hachani? Tunisia’s New Prime Minister

At Tuesday’s midnight, Tunisia’s President Kais Saied fired Najla Bouden, the country’s first female prime minister and replaced her with Ahmed Hachani, a former human resources director at the Central Bank and son of an infamous putschist.

According to the video of the presidency, Tunisia’s new prime minister was immediately sworn in before the head of state.

Ahmed Hachani, 66,  worked at the Central Bank of Tunisia before he got retired in 2018. He graduated from the Faculty of Law of the University of Tunis in 1983, two years before Kais Saied.

He is entirely unknown to the general public, though his father is not.

Tunisia’s new prime minister is the son of Salah Hachani, a Gafsa cargo commander who was sentenced to death and executed for participating in the failed coup against President Habib Bourguiba in 1962.

Ahmed has defended his father’s legacy in a few media interviews pressuring for the release of his body after decades of his execution.

Though, he stayed away from the political scene, except on his Facebook page, where he took the liberty to write lengthy in French about his opposition to Islamic parties, feminism, and his love for Belgian singer Jacques Brel.

The prime minister’s profile on Facebook, which is still online, shows several controversial posts from 2019 when Al-Hachani was chronically active on the social media platform.

“I am an ultra-conservative, far-centre Liberal, anarcho-leftist; clerical-secularist with a union-integralist tendency…. Monarchist and in favour of the restoration of the Khilafah. Clear or not..??,” he posted.

Hachani, whose mother Zakia Bellagha was from a Tunisois Ottoman family, was seen advocating for the parliamentary monarchy regime as the sole solution for Tunisia’s troubles, according to another of his old Facebooks posts that surfaced after his appointment.

In other posts, he slammed the Islamists of the then-majority party of Ennahda and called “ultra feminists” “watch-dogs.”

Kais Saied himself is not immune to Hachani’s Facebook criticism, in which he accused Saied on 25 September 2019 of “switching sides” after becoming president. “Ah, Europe is no longer an enemy! He begins to dress in the President’s garb,” Al-Hachani wrote.

She left as she came, unnoticed.

The presidency gave no official explanation for Bouden’s dismissal, the 66-year-old woman who was the first female prime minister in Tunisia and North Africa.

In the same way, she was appointed, Bouden left silently without closure for her two-year-long political career.

Bouden, a university engineer, was appointed prime minister by Saied in October 2021, two and a half months after the president granted himself sweeping powers by dismissing his then-prime minister and suspending parliament.

Since his power grab, which the opposition has decried as a coup, Saied has ruled by decree.

During the past two years, Bouden was the face of Saied’s maniac measures and theories. Many Tunisians do not believe that Bouden was ever in charge, arguing that she was merely a facade to legitimise and pinkwash his authority.

Meanwhile, several Tunisian media outlets argue that Bouden’s dismissal may be related to Saied’s displeasure over shortages, particularly of bread in state-subsidised bakeries.

Saied, who recently said “bread is a red line for Tunisians”, fears repeating the bread riots that left 150 dead in 1984 under President Habib Bourguiba.

Bouden, who used to work for World Bank, had also supported an economic reform programme that would be needed to obtain a US$1.9bn loan from the International Monetary Fund – an option Saeid categorically  rejects

The North African country, saddled with a crippling public wage bill from a civil service that employs 680,000, is struggling with debt of about 80 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) and seeking foreign aid.

Source: The New Arab