Two more ministers quit Tunisia`s interim government
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Last Updated: Wednesday, March 02, 2011, 10:36
Tunis: Two more ministers abandoned Tunisia's interim government today after a series of departures led by the prime minister following mounting protests against the struggling six-week-old administration.

The ministers were the only opposition figures in the government set up after the January 14 toppling of authoritarian president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in a wave of demonstrations that sparked uprisings across the region.

Ahmed Ibrahim, head of the Ettajdid party who had served as an education minister, told AFP he quit believing he "could better serve the revolution by being outside of the government".

"The Ettajdid movement will have full freedom to act to contribute to the democratic transition," he said.

Local development minister Ahmed Nejib Chebbi, from the Progressive Democratic Party, announced his departure at a press conference criticising the "hesitation and fuzziness" of the interim authority.

The government included several figures from Ben Ali's regime and, even though it announced unprecedented freedoms and opened the way for the unbanning of certain groups and for exiles to return, protests continued to demand they also leave.

Its prime minister Mohammed Ghannouchi, who held the same post for Ben Ali, quit on Sunday after clashes at weekend demonstrations left five people dead.

"I am not ready to be the person who takes decisions that would end up causing casualties," Ghannouchi said.

He was swiftly replaced as prime minister by 84-year-old Beji Caid Essebsi.

Yesterday, industry and technology minister Mohamed Afif Chelbi and planning and international cooperation minister Mohamed Nouri Jouini, both also in Ben Ali's regime, left their posts.

However, opposition groups including parties, the UGTT union and civil society -- coalescing into a Council for the Protection of the Revolution -- continued to press demands including for the establishment of a constituent assembly.

Announcing his resignation, Chebbi said the new prime minister had indicated to him that the caretaker government did plan to form the assembly, which would be tasked with drawing up a new constitution.

"Mr Caid Essebsi told me that the government has decided to fold itself into the Council for the Protection of the Revolution. There will be not be a presidential election but one for a constituent assembly," he said.


First Published: Wednesday, March 02, 2011, 10:36

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