Thursday, January 20, 2011

All RCD ministers in Tunisia quit party

Wednesday's demonstration in Tunis against the RCD presence in the government. (PhotoNasser Nouri. Al Ahram)

Updated.Tunisian television reported on Thursday morning that all ministers belonging to the Rassemblement démocratique constitunionel (RCD), the ruling party of former president Ben Ali, have left the party. This follows another day of street protests against the strong presence of the old guard in the government of 'national unity' in Tunis and other places like Sidi Bouizd, Regueb and Kasserine.
Yesterday evening, interim president Fouad Mebazaa appeared on televison to assure the Tunisians that the government would break with the past. 'I commit myself,' Mebazaa said, 'to make sure that this transition government will make a complete rupture with the past.'  One day earlier Mebazaa and prime minister Ghannouchi quit the governning party, a move that now has been followed by the other RCD-ministers of the government. The central committee of the RCD was dissolved, the Tunisan tv reported.

It was not enough to convince the Tunisian street, however. Today another minister resigned from his post. Zouheir M'Dhaffar, minister of state in the prime minister's office, was the fifth to do so. Meanwhile protest demonstrations were continuing, demanding that all fomer RCD-ministers leave the government and that not only the central committee of the RCD was dissolved, but that the whole party be disbanded. During one of the protests in Tunis, in front of the RCD-headquarters, police in vain fired shots to disperse the crowd. Other demontrations against the RCD were held in Sousse, Sidi Bouzid,   Zarzis, Kairouan, Jendouba, El Kef and Hamma.
The government held a meeting Thursday afternoon. It decided to allow all parties to register, including also the ones that had been banned in the past. Also it adopted a general amnesty law. Earlier already some opponents of the former regime had been released from prison. Among them journalist Fahem Boukadous, who was convicted to a prison term of four years in July.
The Tunisian tv on Wednesday evening showed some of the gold and the jewels of Ben Ali and his wife, which as experts said, is only a fraction of what the ex-president owns, his total possessions amounting to an estimated five billion dollars. An investigation has been opened to establish which possessions have been appropriated illegally, the Tunisian tv announced. It also reported that by now 33 members of Ben Ali's family clan have been arrested. The Swiss government announced that his accounts in Swiss banks have been frozen. The EU in principle agreed to do the same as soon as it receives a list of of the accounts concerned. Saudi Arabia said that it has told Ben Ali who found refuge in the kingdom, to refrain from political acitivity.

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