Parliament grants interim president greater power
Tunisia's parliament granted interim president Fouad Mebazza the power to rule by decree Wednesday as the country struggles to restore order following December's unrest that resulted in the expatriation of dictator Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali.
AFP- Tunisia's senate agreed unanimously Wednesday to grant far reaching powers to the interim president struggling to restore order to the country following the overthrow of former leader Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali.
The upper house followed the lead of the lower house of parliament which on Monday authorised interim president Fouad Mebazza to rule by decree.
"We are coming under social pressure because of the demands of the people for improvements to their situation," caretaker Prime Minister Mohamed Ghannouchi told the house before the vote.
"But it has to be taken into account that the state is not yet capable of responding to all these demands. We do not have a magic wand."
The measure empowers Mebazza to sidestep parliament made up mostly of followers of Ben Ali and decide key issues by decree, particularly those related to the transition to democracy and the holding of elections within six months.
These include a possible general amnesty, human rights legislation, the organisation of political parties and a new electoral code.
The transitional government has banned Ben Ali's ruling party, the Constitutional Democratic Assembly, and accused loyalists of the former leader ousted on January 14 of attempting to foment unrest so as to block the transition to democracy.
Mass protests sparked partly by poverty and unemployment erupted across the country last month, resulting in Ben Ali's ouster. Pockets of unrest remain and police, closely associated with the hated Ben Ali regime, have played no role in restoring law and order.
On Tuesday the government called up reservists to bolster the army which has been carrying out security duties to help keep order.
Some 234 people have been killed during the unrest in Tunisia and 510 have been injured, an official source told AFP on Tuesday. The United Nations last week had put the figure at 219.