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Tunisian Forces Fire in Air During Protest

Tunisian security forces on Wednesday fired into the air and used tear gas to disperse thousands of protesters in the town of Kasserine, about 300 kilometers southwest of the capital, Tunis.

Local officials said demonstrators hurled stones at a local prison and surrounded it. They said protesters were angry because they felt that the country's new leadership had failed to recognize local residents' contribution to a popular revolt earlier this year which ousted longtime president Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali and led to the "Arab Spring."

The revolt inspired uprisings in Egypt, Libya, Syria and Yemen, which reshaped the political landscape of the Middle East.

The clashes came a day after Tunisia inaugurated its new Constituent Assembly following a power-sharing deal between moderate Islamists and secular parties, reached a month after October 23 parliamentary elections.

The 217-member body will be tasked with drafting a news constitution and political system.
The new Cabinet, which faces many challenges including attracting foreign investments and reviving the country's faltering economy, vowed to hold new elections within a year.

The moderately Islamist ruling Ennahda party took 90 of 217 assembly seats in last month's polls - three times the number won by its nearest rival. Its leader, Rachid Ghannouchi, said his party would work to form a new government in "friendliness" and "brotherhood." The secular Congress for the Republic placed second with 30 seats, while the Democratic Forum for Labor and Liberties, or Ettakatol, came in third with 21 seats.

Tunisia's landmark elections were widely considered free and fair.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.