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

    Double Wave of Suicide Bombings Puts Lebanon, Refugees on Edge

    Following suicide bombings in Christian town of Al-Qaa, on Lebanon's northeast border with Syria, fears of further bombings have risen

    China Seeks On-Off Switch for Internet

    Public asks whose security is cybersecurity law aiming to protect

    UN Human Rights Chief: Burundi May Explode Into Ethnic Violence

    Burundian government accuses the UN of a campaign of distortion

    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.
    Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roari
    X
    June 28, 2016 10:33 AM
    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roar

    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Melting Pot of Immigrants Working to Restore US Capitol Dome

    The American Iron Works company is one of the firms working to renovate the iconic U.S. Capitol Dome. The company employs immigrants of many different cultural and national backgrounds. VOA’s Arman Tarjimanyan has more.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video New York Pride March A Celebration of Life, Mourning of Loss

    At this year’s march in New York marking the end of pride week, a record-breaking crowd of LGBT activists and allies marched down Manhattan's Fifth Avenue, in what will be long remembered as a powerful display of solidarity and remembrance for the 49 victims killed two weeks ago in an Orlando gay nightclub.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora