Belfast Telegraph

Monday 22 December 2014

Tunisian Cabinet in first meeting

Protesters shout slogans during a demonstration against the RCD party of deposed president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in Tunis (AP)
Protesters shout slogans during a demonstration against the RCD party of deposed president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in Tunis (AP)
A Tunisian talks to a soldier as he defies the curfew in the centre of Tunis (AP)

Tunisia's new interim government has held its first Cabinet meeting, nearly a week after the fall of President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali.

Government spokesman Tayyib Al Bakouchi said the multi-party administration had pledged to make security its top priority, to prepare for new presidential elections and speed up political reforms.

It promised to bring back any resources spirited out of the country and to remove security forces stationed at universities.

It also held a moment of silence for the dozens killed in nearly a month of unrest leading up to Mr Ben Ali's departure last Friday and declared three days of national mourning.

Earlier, the Tunisian army fired warning shots as demonstrators marched toward the ruling party's headquarters in the capital Tunis.

Demonstrators have criticised the country's new unity government for being mostly made up of old guard politicians from the ruling party.

They are seeking the disbanding of the RCD party, founded by Mr Ben Ali, who fled to Saudi Arabia on Friday after 23 years in power.

Prime minister Mohamed Ghannouchi and interim president Fouad Mebazaa quit the RCD earlier in the week.

Outside the gates of the party headquarters in Tunis, the army fired about 10 rounds into the air, scattering some protesters in the noisy but peaceful crowd. Others remained, chanting, "Down with the RCD!"

The warning shots came after a period of relative calm in Tunisia, which has been rattled by more than a month of unrest over the lack of jobs and alleged corruption in Ben Ali's regime. Police even let protesters break a curfew to hold a sit-in near the Interior Ministry.

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