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Parliament approves Tunisia's new government and prime minister promises results

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TUNIS, Tunisia — Tunisia's parliament on Thursday overwhelmingly approved the country's first full-term post-revolutionary government.

Prime Minister Habib Essid, whose cabinet has ministers from four parties including the powerful Islamists, promised "work and nothing but work" on the country's economic and security problems.

In the four years since Tunisians overthrew their longtime dictator, the country has been ruled by a string of interim governments, some of them Islamist, that haven't succeeded in bringing the jobs and economic growth needed.

There have also been terrorist attacks from radical militants that have killed two politicians and left many members of the security forces dead.

PHOTO: Tunisian Prime Minister Habib Essid delivers his speech at the national assembly in Tunis, Wednesday, Feb.4, 2015. The government faces a confidence vote in parliament on Wednesday, which it is expected to pass. The new government faces a battle against high inflation and high unemployment. (AP Photo/Hassene Dridi)
Tunisian Prime Minister Habib Essid delivers his speech at the national assembly in Tunis, Wednesday, Feb.4, 2015. The government faces a confidence vote in parliament on Wednesday, which it is expected to pass. The new government faces a battle against high inflation and high unemployment. (AP Photo/Hassene Dridi)

"With this vote of confidence, Tunisia enters today a new stage to build a new Tunisia," said parliament speaker Mohammed Ennaceur.

A new constitution, parliamentary and presidential elections in 2014 have finally brought the transition to a close and a new nationalist party, Nida Tunis, which was elected largely for its opposition to the Islamists, has come to power.

The party cannot rule alone, however, and an initial attempt by Essid to propose a government with just one other party in the coalition was quickly scrapped when they realized they didn't have the votes.

Instead, the Islamist Ennahda party was given a token ministry — despite being the second largest party in the coalition — to ensure its support.

The prime minister presented his program to parliament Wednesday, with a series of urgent measures to be taken in the first hundred days, mainly to create jobs with infrastructure projects and reforms to attract investment.

Alone among the countries affected by the Arab Spring pro-democracy uprisings, Tunisia's transition to democracy has remained on track and is being closely watched throughout the region.

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