By Associated Press - Monday, March 7, 2011

TUNIS, Tunisia (AP) — Tunisia’s prime minister named a new government Monday after a spate of resignations that has revived questions about the country’s post-revolution direction.

Prime Minister Beji Caid Essebsi kept the heads of the key defense, interior, justice and foreign affairs ministries.

He named new figures to six posts vacated last week by ministers apparently trying to distance themselves from the caretaker government, seen by some as too close to the regime of ousted President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.

The announcement is the latest step by interim authorities to restore stability after weeks of protests drove out Mr. Ben Ali in January, sparking revolts around the Arab world.

Mr. Caid Essebsi himself was named just a week ago after his predecessor quit amid renewed protest violence.

The prime minister said on his website Monday that his new appointments have been approved by the interim president.

Mr. Caid Essebsi had said on Friday that he would present a new Cabinet to help pull his country back from the “abyss.”

Mr. Caid Essebsi, 84, said his priorities would be re-establishing security, rebuilding Tunisia’s suddenly troubled economy, and bringing life back to normal in the country that has long been a tourist draw for sun-minded Europeans.

Last week, interim president Fouad Mebazaa announced an election on July 24 for a body that will draw up a new constitution. That is seen as a step toward eventual presidential elections.

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