Public Anger Continues in Tunisia: “Liberation Caravan” outside PM Office

Al Manar

24/01/2011 Tunisian public anger at the interim government continues, as hundreds of protesters defied a night-time curfew and camped out in front of Prime Minister Mohammed Ghannouchi’s office on Sunday, in a bid to force the cabinet to resign following the ouster of ex-president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.

Demonstrators said the revolt against Ben Ali has not gone far enough and should be followed up by the removal of all old-regime figures from the leadership and the abolition of Ben Ali’s powerful Constitutional Democratic Rally (RCD) party.

The cabinet was unveiled last Monday with the presence of old regime figures, including Ghannouchi, along with other seven ministers who were members in RDC. The interim Leader Foued Mebazaa was also himself a member in RDC.

Although Mebazaa and the eight ministers have announced they have resigned from the unpopular party, and also have said the government would lift a ban on political groups, protesters are not convinced and see they should intensify their pressure on the government.

In stark contrast to the violent crackdown seen in the final days of the uprising that toppled Ben Ali, security forces didn’t intervene, as the protester defied a night-time curfew and a state of emergency that bans any public assemblies.

Protesters set up two tents and laid out sleeping bags on the square in front of Ghannouchi’s office, where thousands had gathered earlier on Sunday.

Many had come from poorer rural regions of the North African state, where the uprising against Ben Ali’s regime began with social protests last month.

“We won’t leave the square until the government resigns,” said Mizar, a student from Sidi Bouzid — the town in central Tunisia where a fruit vendor’s self-immolation protest last month unleashed the first demonstrations.

Some of the protesters held up pictures of the dozens of people killed during Ben Ali’s crackdown, who are now officially “martyrs of the revolution.”

The protest was supported by the General Union of Tunisian Workers, best known under its French acronym UGTT, which played a key role in anti-Ben Ali protests and has refused to recognize the fledgling government.

OLD REGIME FIGURES DETAINED

Officials said they had also detained two key figures from the regime of Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, who quit on January 14 after 23 years in power.

Senate leader Abdallah Kallal and top Ben Ali adviser Abdel Aziz Ben Dhia were being held under house arrest, TAP news agency reported.

Agencies

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