Tunisia profile

President: Moncef Marzouki

Tunisian president Moncef Marzouki Moncef Marzouki opposed his predecessor and was forced into exile

Veteran dissident Moncef Marzouki was installed as president in December 2011, a few months after the popular protests which forced autocratic leader Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali from power and which inspired the Arab Spring uprisings across the region.

Members of the constitutional assembly, the interim parliament, voted to elect Mr Marzouki as president, the second most powerful role after the prime minister.

He is widely respected for his opposition to former president Ben Ali, and is seen as a likely counterweight to the Islamist Ennahda party which became the country's dominant political force in the elections of October 2011.

A doctor and human rights campaigner, Mr Marzouki was jailed in 1994 after challenging Mr Ben Ali in a presidential election.

He only returned home after Mr Ben Ali was toppled.

His curt demeanour, hard-hitting speech, craggy face and oversize glasses have made him a cartoonists' delight.

While admirers say Mr Marzouki's character is beyond reproach, critics accuse him of being a pawn of the Islamist Ennahda, which has 89 deputies in the new parliament, where Mr Marzouki's Congress for the Republic (CPR) party is in distant second place with 29 seats.

Mr Marzouki was elected as part of a power-sharing deal between the Islamist Ennahda party and its two smaller secular coalition partners, Ettakatol and Marzouki's Congress for the Republic.

The deal gives the president limited powers. He sets Tunisia's foreign policy in consultation with the prime minister. He is also commander-in-chief of the armed forces but can only appoint or fire senior officers in consultation with the prime minister.

Interim Prime Minister: Mehdi Jomaa

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