Tunisia Announces New Government

Tunisia announced Monday a new national unity government following the ouster of longtime president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.

The transitional government immediately implemented new media freedoms and lifted a ban on the Tunisian League for Human Rights, the country’s central human rights group.

The government retains six of Ben Ali’s cabinet, including Prime Minister Mohammed Ghannouchi. It also includes three members of the opposition party.

Ben Ali, who first rose to power after a bloodless coup in 1987, fled to Saudi Arabia Friday after weeks of demonstrations against his Constitutional Democratic Rally (RCD) party in the capital of Tunis.

Fed up with high unemployment and reports of government corruption, Tunisians began the violent demonstrations in mid-December following the public suicide of a local man, who has since been hailed as a martyr for the cause.

In the chaotic days since Ben Ali’s downfall, the international community has offered its immediate support. United Nations chief Ban Ki-moon called on newly appointed Tunisian authorities “to ensure a prompt restoration of the rule of law,” while the United States and European Union offered aid in organizing elections.

“Tunisia wants to be a stable democracy, in full respect of fundamental rights and freedoms. It wants free and fair, inclusive elections. We will support Tunisia in their endeavors to achieve this,” EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said, according to AFP.

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