All Tunisian ministers quit ruling party after protests

Four union and oppposition ministers had quit the interim cabinet this week, demanding that RCD ministers go.

All Tunisian ministers quit ruling party after protests

All ministers in Tunisia's interim government have on Thursday resigned from the ruling party of the ousted president, state TV reported, after demands the RCD party be stripped of power or dissolved.

The move comes as street protesters in Tunisia kept up pressure for a government free of ties with the old guard.

Four union and oppposition ministers had quit the interim cabinet this week, demanding that RCD ministers go. The move could go some way to restoring credibility in the cabinet.

Tunisia's prime minister and president quit the party of deposed President Zine al-Abdine Ben Ali earlier this week.

The country's interim leaders said they had freed the last of its political prisoners and promised a "complete break with the past" on Wednesday to appease the protesters who forced the strongman of 23 years, Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali, to flee to Saudi Arabia last week with some of his wealthy entourage.

"33 arested"

State television said 33 of Ben Ali's clan had been arrested for crimes against the nation. It showed what it said was seized gold and jewellery. Switzerland froze Ben Ali's family assets.

Demonstrators, though less numerous than during the days of rage which unseated Ben Ali, continued to insist on the removal of all ministers from his once feared RCD party.

Only that, they said, could satisfy the hopes of their "Jasmine Revolution", which has delivered a shock to autocrats across the Arab world.

In Sidi Bouzid, the hardscrabble central Tunisian town where the revolt against Ben Ali erupted after a vegetable seller, insulted by police, set himself on fire, residents said the changes at the top had not gone far enough.

"Ben Ali's gang remains in the RDC and is trying to steal the revolution and the blood of the martyrs," said Lazhar Gharbi, a head teacher and unionist in the town.

"We want the dissolution of this party. This is the solution, and we want to hold its members responsible for their corruption," he told Reuters.

"Prisoners freed"

The last of Ben Ali's political prisoners went free on Wednesday, including members of a banned Islamist group, said Najib Chebbi, an opposition figure named to the cabinet.

Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Deputy Director of Amnesty International's Middle East and North Africa Programme, called the release "a significant and positive step" and said they should receive reparations.

"The Tunisian authorities now need to show that they are really serious about ending the culture of human rights abuses that has existed for over two decades, and begin to rein in the security apparatus that has harassed and oppressed ordinary Tunisians for so long," he added.

At a summit in Egypt, the head of the Arab League warned the region's leaders to heed economic and political problems.

The United Nations said it would send human rights advisers to Tunisia next week.

Rating agency Moody's Investors Service lowered its credit rating for Tunisia, and Standard and Poor's has threatened to do so if uncertainty continues. The cost of insuring Tunisia's debt against default rose sharply.


Agencies


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Last Mod: 20 Ocak 2011, 16:05
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