Following mounting street pressure, all ministers of Tunisia’s new government who belonged to ex-president Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali's RCD party have resigned from the former leader’s party, state media reported.
AP - The Tunisian army fired warning shots in the capital Thursday as demonstrators marched toward the headquarters of the longtime ruling party, and government ministers
quit the party in a desperate attempt to keep their jobs.
Demonstrators have criticized the country’s new unity government announced Monday for being mostly made up of old guard politicians from the ruling party. They are seeking the disbanding of the RCD party, founded by ousted President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, who fled to Saudi Arabia on Friday after 23 years in power.
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 corruption in Ben Ali’s regime. Police even let protesters break a curfew Thursday night to hold a sit-in near the Interior Ministry.
A caretaker government is now struggling to calm this moderate Muslim nation on the Mediterranean Sea, popular among European tourists and seen as an ally in the West’s fight against terrorism.
Although the unity government includes a few opposition leaders for the first time, demonstrators say the big jobs are still in the hands of Ben Ali’s cronies.
Members of the interim government who belonged to the longtime ruling party quit the party on Thursday, the official TAP news agency said Thursday. Prime Minister Mohamed
Tunisians continue to pressure Ben Ali's RCD party
Ghannouchi and interim President Fouad Mebazaa had already quit the RCD earlier in the week.
In another attempt to ease tensions, the interim government has released all the country’s political prisoners.
National television also reported that least 33 members of Ben Ali’s family were taken into custody as they tried to flee the country, and national prosecutors are investigating overseas bank accounts, real estate and other assets held by Ben Ali, his wife Leila
Key figures in Tunisian politics
Fouad Mebazaa, interim president
The 78-year-old speaker of parliament was sworn in as Tunisia’s interim president a day after Tunisian strongman Ben Ali fled for Saudi Arabia. A veteran politician, Mebazaa is the chairman of the ruling RDC (Democratic Constitutional Rally) party. (Photo: AFP)
Mohamed Ghannouchi, prime minister
Nicknamed "Tunisia's computer,” Ghannouchi is considered the architect of Ben Ali’s economic policies. A former finance minister, he became PM in 1999. A technocrat and close Ben Ali associate, Ghannouchi served as acting president for a day following Ben Ali's ouster.
Kamel Morjane, foreign minister
A seasoned diplomat, Foreign Minister Kamel Morjane, 62, is considered a “new man” in politics. His political career began in 2005, when he was appointed defence minister. Educated abroad, Morjane worked previously for UNHCR.(Photo: AFP)
Najib Chebbi, PDP founder
A prominent opposition figure, Najib Chebbi founded, in 1983, the Progressive Socialist Rally, which was renamed the Progressive Democratic Party (PDP) in 2001. He was appointed minister of regional development in the transitional unity government. (Photo: AFP)
Maya Jribi, PDP general secretary
In 2006, Maya Jribi became the PDP’s secretary-general, the first woman to hold such a post in Tunisia. Jibri, 50, is a biologist by training. Under Ben Ali, the PDP was legally recognized but it had no representatives in parliament. (Photo: AFP)
Mustapha Ben Jaafar, FTDL secretary general
Mustapha Ben Jaafar was vice president of the Tunisian League of Human Rights before helping found the opposition party FTDL(Democratic Forum for Labour and Liberties) in 1994. He was appointed transitional health minister in the new unity government. (Photo: AFP)
Ahmed Ibrahim, founder and leader of Ettajdid Party
A former senior member of the Tunisian Communist Party, Ahmed Brahim, 64, is one of the founders of the Ettajdid (Renewal) party. He ran for president in the 2009 election. Ibrahim was appointed minister for higher education in the national unity government.(Photo:AFP)
Hamma Hammami, spokesperson, Tunisian Workers’ Communist Party
A prominent opposition figure, Hamma Hammami, 59, was jailed several times for his campaign against Ben Ali’s power. He spent part of his life in hiding. The Communist Party, banned in Tunisia, was not invited to negotiations to form a unity government.
Rashid Ghannouchi, leader, Islamist Ennahdha (Renaissance) Party
Leader of the Islamist Ennahdha (Renaissance) party, Rashid Ghannouchi has lived in exile in London since 1989. Following Ben Ali’s ouster, Ghannouchi, 69, says he is a moderate and advocates the Islamist and democratic principles of Turkey’s ruling AKP party.
Trabelsi and other relatives.
Swiss officials froze all assets tied to Ben Ali’s family on Wednesday, estimating that Tunisian officials have put about $620 million into Swiss banks. In Paris, anti-corruption group Transparency International France and two other associations filed suit alleging corruption by Ben Ali and his wife.
A French government minister said the Tunisian central bank director, Taoufik Baccar, has resigned following widespread rumors that the president’s wife fled the country with a huge stash of gold.
Tunisia’s Central Bank took control of Banque Zitouna, a bank founded by a son-in-law of Ben Ali, to protect its deposits.
Date created : 2011-01-20