Tunisia mourns protest victims

The government said schools and universities, closed since last week, would reopen on Monday.

Tunisia mourns protest victims

Tunisia observes three days of national mourning from Friday for the dozens of people killed during protests before and after the ouster of former president Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali, state television said.

In a statement released after a cabinet meeting on Thursday, the government said schools and universities, closed since last week, would reopen on Monday.

Mohamed Aloulou, minister for youth and sport, told reporters after the cabinet meeting that sporting events, also on hold since last week, would resume "very soon".

At least 78 people have been killed since the start of Tunisia's uprising and the unrest has cost 3 billion dinars ($2.1 billion) in damages and lost business, Interior Minister Ahmed Friaa told state TV this week.

"Amnesty includes Islamists"

The new government, faced with violent street protests for retaining members of the deposed president's cabinet, offered a blanket amnesty to all political groups, including the Islamist opposition.

The pledge was issued at the ruling coalition's first cabinet meeting on Thursday. Protesters have complained that despite a promised amnesty, only a few hundred of those imprisoned for political reasons during Ben Ali's 23-year rule had been released.

"We are in agreement for a general amnesty," said Higher Education Minister Ahmed Ibrahim, an opposition party leader who joined the coalition after Ben Ali's removal.

The announcement followed another day of protests, with police firing shots into the air to try to disperse hundreds of demonstrators demanding that ministers associated with the rule of Ben Ali leave the government.

"RCD office attacked"

The announcement followed another day of protests, with police firing shots into the air to try to disperse hundreds of demonstrators demanding that ministers associated with the rule of Ben Ali leave the government.

The protesters, who gathered outside the Tunis headquarters of the RCD, Tunisia's ruling party for several decades, refused to move back when police fired shots from behind a metal fence.

There were also protests in other towns across Tunisia.

Protesters on Mohamed V Avenue near the centre of Tunis chanted: "After Ben Ali and his wife, we want to bring down his thieves!" They also burned the logo of the party and carried banners saying: "Government out!"

One of the protesters, who gave his name as Aymen, said: "We are here, we are not going to move until the RCD falls. We will come every hour and every day."

At the RCD headquarters, workmen were removing the large plaque from the outside of the building bearing the party's name, a Reuters reporter said.

A military officer guarding the building told the crowd: "Translate this as you wish: the RCD is going away."

Ben Ali fled to Saudi Arabia on Friday after weeks of unrest spurred by anger over poverty, unemployment and repression. The first popular revolt in generations to topple an Arab leader, his downfall sent shockwaves through the Arab world.

Agencies

Last Mod: 21 Ocak 2011, 16:44
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