Saturday, February 26, 2011
Mass demonstration in Tunis demands Ghannouchi step down
Tunis has seen the biggest demonstration since Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali fled to Saudi Arabia last month. Mohammed Ghannouchi's interim government has promised elections by mid-July, but crowds marching down Avenu Bourguiba, Tunis' main avenue, nevertheless chanted: "Ghannouchi leave." Ghannouchi had been ben Ali's prime minister since 1999.
Later in the evening police fired tear gas and warning shots as crowds tried to storm the interior ministry. Witnesses said one protester was injured when police fired warning shots at the crowd which according to some estimates was 100,000-strong. The Algerian newspaper Al Watan reported that on Saturday Avenue Bourguiba looked likea battlefield, with police cars torched, cafés plundered and trees and banks uprooted.
The Tunisian cabinet released a statement on Friday that the government "has decided that consultations with different political parties should not exceed mid-March and that elections will be organised at the latest in mid-July 2011".It also announced that it had seized the financial and real estate assets belonging to 110 members of Ben Ali's entourage following similar action on 46 other members, the Tunisian news agency TAP reported. It has already issued arrest warrants for Ben Ali and his wife Leila Trabelsi.