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Tunisians protest against government in capital

Protest against new government led by Ben Ali's RCD party.

January 18, 2011 2:00 by

Tunisian police used tear gas on Tuesday to break up a protest in the capital against an interim cabinet announced after former leader Zine bin Abidine Ben Ali was deposed last week.

Reuters witnesses said the protest of several hundred mainly opposition party supporters and unionists had been peaceful but was broken up by the police.

“The new government is a sham. It’s an insult to the revolution that claimed lives and blood,” said student Ahmed al-Haji.

Tunisian Prime Minister Mohamed Ghannouchi announced a new government on Monday that included several familiar faces from the ousted president’s government, and three opposition leaders.

The prime minister, along with the ministers for defence, foreign affairs, internal affairs and finance, are unchanged. Many if not all are members of the ruling RCD party, Ben Ali’s power base for the 23 years of his rule.

Protesters said they did want any figures from the RCD party in the new government. Some carried banners saying “Down with the RCD”.

“This ia a peaceful protest and look what happened,” said protester Sami bin Hassan.

“The problem with the interim government is it has a number of ministers from the old government. I am 30 but haven’t achieved anything because the old regime was dictatorial.”

Ben Ali fled to Saudi Arabia last week after weeks of unprecedented popular protests against poverty, corruption and political repression in the North African country of 10 million.

(Reporting by Lin Noueihed and Marco Trujillo; Writing by Andrew Hammond; Editing by Louise Ireland)

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