Educated at Sousse, then at Paris where be studied Law and spent his spare time as a Neo-Destour Party agent.
In 1937 he was admitted to the Bar at Tunis. He helped develop the country’s trade union movement and became its secretary-general. His political activities led to arrest and deportation. In 1938 he was sent to prison in France. Four years later the victorious German army liberated him and allowed him to slip back to Tunis.
As a journalist he became renowned for his political commentaries in the French-language newspaper “Mission”. These were interrupted when his dedication to the nationalist cause landed him in prison again in 1952 and 1953. In the last steps to independence he became “respectable” even in the eyes of the French. He was made Minister of Commerce in the first Tahar Ben Ammar government in August 1954 and later was promoted Minister of Finance.
At independence on March 20, 1956, Bourguiba gave him a free hand at the Ministry of Finance to free the country from the shackles of colonialism. Nouira drafted a realistic programme, balancing the country’s needs against its resources. For the first time for many years the budget was balanced and foreign credits kept under control. He led Tunisia’s first delegation to the International Monetary Fund meeting in 1958 and quickly established a high reputation in the world’s financial circles.
His emphasis on productivity and profits has not always endeared him to critics of the administration who call for more socialism and less paternalism. As time passes the philosophy of the Destour movement which he helped to formulate is under increasing challenge from young people. Yet the reins of government are firm in his hands regardless of opposition in the universities. This was demonstrated during Bourguiba’s long absence from the country for medical treatment in 1971, when he was acting Head of State.
Interaction Council UNDP.
Political brain of the Destour Socialist Party, who played a key role in the struggle for independence from France and in putting the country on a stable economic footing afterwards. Impressive as a quiet, bespectacled, earnest man whose thinking is the basis of the nationalist philosophy. Often spoken of as a possible president one day, though devoid of the charismatic appeal of Bourguiba. Despite his imprisonment alongside extreme nationalists he never became bitter or lost his sense of perspective.