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Tunisian PM takes over interim gov't, vows to respect constitution

01-15-2011 08:37 BJT

TUNIS, Jan. 14 (Xinhua) -- Tunisian Prime Minister Mohammed Ghannouchi announced on television Friday that he had taken over the interim government after President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali fled the country after 23 years in power.

Ghannouchi invoked article 56 of the constitution which stipulates that the prime minister ensures interim in case the president is temporarily incapacitated.

"I call on Tunisians of all political persuasions and from all regions to demonstrate patriotism and unity," he said, vowing that he would respect the constitution.

Ben Ali left the country earlier Friday afternoon following massive demonstrations requesting him to step down, despite announcing on Thursday that he would not run for another term in 2014. It was not clear where he was headed.

Previously, Ben Ali had dissolved the government and announced the holding of early elections within the next 6 months. But this did not quell the protests.

Later in the day, authorities also declared the state of emergency. Tunisian airspace was closed and the military have taken control of the country's airports.

On the third day of the dawn-to-dusk curfew imposed across the country, it is still not clear whether or not protests will abate.

Triggered by rising food costs and rampant unemployment, the unrest which has plagued the North African country for four weeks, has left tens of people dead.

The nation-wide protest was ignited by the suicide of Mohammed Bouazizi in the southern city of Sidi Bouzid, a street vendor who set himself on fire after his fruit cart was confiscated by police.



Editor:Zhang Pengfei |Source: Xinhua

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