News / Middle East

Resignations Hit Tunisia's Coalition as Thousands Protest

President Fouad Mebazza (l), and Prime Minister Mohamed Ghannouchi attend the cabinet oath-taking ceremony in Tunis, Jan 18 2011
President Fouad Mebazza (l), and Prime Minister Mohamed Ghannouchi attend the cabinet oath-taking ceremony in Tunis, Jan 18 2011

Related video report by Chris Simkins


At least four opposition ministers have quit Tunisia's day-old unity government, aligning themselves with demonstrators who insist democratic change is impossible while so many supporters of the ousted president remain in power.

Thousands protested across the north African nation Tuesday, calling for President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali's Democratic Constitutional Rally party to be shut out of the government. Riot police fired tear gas in the capital, Tunis.

Key players in Tunisia

Zine El Abidine Ben Ali

Ousted President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali ruled Tunisia for more than two decades. He fled to Saudi Arabia on January 14.

Mohamed Ghannouchi

Prime Minister Mohamed Ghannouchi is a close ally of the ousted president. He announced a new unity government this week.

Fouad Mebazaa

Fouad Mebazaa was sworn in as Tunisia's interim president last week. H previously served as the speaker of parliament.

Najib Chebbi

Najib Chebbi is the founder of the largest and most credible opposition group, the Progressive Democratic Party.

Moncek Marzouki

Moncek Marzouki is the head of the small Congress for the Republic party. The formerly exiled political activist and opposition leader returned to the country Tuesday.

Rachid Ghannouchi

Rachid Ghannouchi is the exiled leader of the outlawed Ennahdha Islamic fundamentalist movement.  In 1992, a Tunisian military court sentenced him to life in prison on a conviction of plotting to overthrow the government.  He has been living in Britain but has indicated he may now return to Tunisia.  He is no relation to the prime minister by the same last name.

Prime Minister Mohamed Ghannouchi insisted in a radio interview with the French Europe 1 broadcaster that ministers in the new government remaining from the former regime have "clean hands" and great competence. He suggested that experienced officials are needed in a caretaker government to guide the country before free elections are held.

In an attempt to mollify protesters and distance themselves from Mr. Ben Ali, the prime minister and interim President Fouad Mebazza resigned from the ruling RCD on Tuesday. State media reported the party also expelled Mr. Ben Ali, its founder.

Officials with the country's main labor union, the UGTT, said its three newly appointed ministers had withdrawn because the movement will not recognize the new government. Tunisia's health minister, who is from the opposition FDLT party, also resigned.

The United States welcomed reforms announced by the new government, including media freedoms and the liberation of all political prisoners, but said political change in the Arab state must broaden and deepen.

U.N. spokesman Martin Nesirky said Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon also urged "broad-based consultations" to establish an inclusive interim government.

On Monday, Mr. Ghannouchi announced a coalition Cabinet that includes the current ministers of defense, interior, foreign affairs and finance. He announced lower-level Cabinet positions for several opposition figures.

The announcement came after former president Ben Ali fled the country Friday after a month of protests and rioting sparked by widespread unemployment and high food prices. His departure ended more than two decades of authoritarian rule.

The capital remains occupied by tanks and heavily armed riot police, while many stores and businesses are closed. A ban on public assemblies is in place, as well as a strict nighttime curfew.

Tunisia's Interior Ministry said Monday that 78 people have died in the month-long violence. The government previously put the number of fatalities at 23. Unofficial estimates put the death toll at around 100.

Separately, supporters of formerly exiled opposition leader Moncek Marzouki greeted him Tuesday as he arrived in the country from Paris. The head of the Congress for the Republic party says he is considering running for president.

Prime Minister Ghannouchi said Tunisia will work toward transparent, fair elections under the supervision of international observers.  A presidential poll is to be held within 60 days.

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

NEW: Follow our Middle East reports on Twitter
and discuss them on our Facebook page.

You May Like

French Refugee Drama Wins Cannes Top Prize

Dheepan is about a group of Sri Lankan refugees who pretend to be a family in order to flee their war-torn country for a housing project in France More

Photogallery Crisis in Macedonia Requires Meaningful and Swift Measures

The international community has called on Macedonian leadership to take concrete measures in support of democracy in order to exit the crisis More

Activists: IS Executes 217 Civilians, Soldiers Near Palmyra

British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights on Sunday said the victims include nurses, women, children and Syrian government fighters More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmakingi
X
Bernard Shusman
May 24, 2015 2:55 PM
According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.
Video

Video Scientists Testing Space Propulsion by Light

Can the sun - the heart of our solar system - power a spacecraft to the edge of our solar system? The answer may come from a just-launched small satellite designed to test the efficiency of solar sail propulsion. Once deployed, its large sail will catch the so-called solar wind and slowly reach what scientists hope to be substantial speed. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video FIFA Trains Somali Referees

As stability returns to the once lawless nation of Somalia, the world football governing body, FIFA, is helping to rebuild the country’s sport sector by training referees as well as its young footballers. Abdulaziz Billow has more from Mogadishu.
Video

Video With US Child Obesity Rates on the Rise, Program Promotes Health Eating

In its fifth year, FoodCorps puts more than 180 young Americans into 500 schools across the United States, where they focus on teaching students about nutrition, engaging them with hands-on activities, and improving their access to healthy foods whether in the cafeteria or the greater community. Aru Pande has more.
Video

Video Virginia Neighborhood Draws People to Nostalgic Main Street

In the U.S., people used to grow up in small towns with a main street lined by family-owned shops and restaurants. Today, however, many main streets are worn down and empty because shoppers have been lured away by shopping malls. But in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria, Virginia, main street is thriving. VOA’s Deborah Block reports it has a nostalgic feel with its small restaurants and unique stores.
Video

Video Effort Underway to Limit Damage from California Oil Spill

Cleanup crews are working around the clock to remove oil from the waters off the coastal city of Santa Barbara, in California. About 380,000 liters of oil may have leaked out before a rupture in an onshore, underground pipeline was discovered Tuesday. The environmental disaster hit the popular West Coast resort area before the Memorial Day weekend. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports investigators have yet to determine what caused the incident.

VOA Blogs