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Tunisian FM Resigns From Interim Government


Protesters burn a photo of former Tunisian President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali during a demonstration in Tunis, January 24, 2011

Protesters burn a photo of former Tunisian President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali during a demonstration in Tunis, January 24, 2011

Tunisia's state news agency says Foreign Minister Kamel Morjane resigned from the country's interim government Thursday, after days of protests calling for a purging of officials tied to the ousted president's administration.

Morjane was among the ministers of former President Zine el Abidine Ben Ali's Cabinet whom Prime Minister Mohamed Ghannouchi announced would keep their posts in the new coalition government.

Those key ministers - including the prime minister and the ministers of defense, interior, foreign affairs and finance - later resigned from the ruling party in an effort to stop protests against the party's continued influence in Tunisian politics.

Protesters rallied outside the office of the prime minister Thursday, as the interim government was expected to announce a Cabinet reshuffle likely to remove loyalists of Mr. Ben Ali.

The Reuters news agency reports the protesters in Tunis stormed police barricades at the site, as they continued to press for several resignations.

Meanwhile, the French news agency says the leader of Tunisia's Islamist movement Ennahdha will return to Tunisia Sunday after more than 20 years in exile.

Rached Ghannouchi - no relation to the prime minister - said in an interview with France24 earlier this week that he would return home in a few days but would not re-enter politics. He said there is a younger generation of reformers who are more qualified to bring about democratic change.

On Wednesday, Tunisian government officials issued an international arrest warrant for Mr. Ben Ali and six members of his family.

Justice Minister Lazhar Karoui Chebbi said Wednesday that Mr. Ben Ali, his wife Leila Trabelsi, and other family members are accused of illegally acquiring property and other assets abroad. They are also charged with illegally transferring money out of the country.

Mr. Ben Ali fled Tunisia January 14 amid the eruption of unrest over unemployment, rising prices and corrupt rule.

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