Two more ministers quit Tunisia`s interim government

Last Updated: Wednesday, March 2, 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.

PTI



First Published: Wednesday, March 2, 2011 - 10:36

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