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Tunisians Rally on Anniversary of Uprising

People at a ceremony marking the first anniversary of the Tunisian Revolution December 17, 2011, in the town of Sidi Bouzid, where it was sparked by the self-immolation of a fruit vendor.

Thousands of Tunisians rallied Saturday to celebrate the first anniversary of the popular uprising that sent the former president into exile, ending decades of dictatorship, and sparked revolutions across the Arab world.

The crowd gathered peacefully in the town of Sidi Bouzid, one year after a young fruit vendor, Mohamed Bouazizi, set himself on fire in an act of protest that triggered the uprising. He later died.

Streets were filled with Tunisian flags, pictures of those who died in the revolution and a large photo of Bouazizi.

Newly elected President Moncef Marzouki attended the rally. He paid tribute to Tunisians for rising up and defying longtime President Zine el Abidine Ben Ali, who fled the country in January and now is in exile in Saudi Arabia.

The climactic outcome of the Tunisian revolution sparked popular movements across much of the Middle East and North Africa. What soon became known as the Arab Spring, prompted citizens to defy autocratic rulers and call for reforms in Egypt, Syria, Bahrain, Yemen and Libya.

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

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