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

Video On the Scene: In Gaza, Darkness Brings Dread and Death

Palestinians fear nighttime raids, many feel abandoned by outside world, VOA's Scott Bobb reports More

African Small Farmers Could Be Key to Ending Food Insecurity

Experts say providing access to microloans, crop insurance, better storage facilities, irrigation, road systems and market information could enable greater production More

University of Michigan Wins Solar Car Race

Squad guided its student-designed solar-powered vehicle to fifth consecutive time victory in eight-day bi-annual American Solar Challenge 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.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid