19 Jan 2011

Split in new Tunisia government

10:29 am on 19 January 2011

Three opposition ministers have quit a new coalition government in Tunisia because of the inclusion of members of the party of ousted president, Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali.

The coalition was formed after Mr Ali fled to Saudi Arabia on 14 January after weeks of street protests.

Junior transport minister Anouar Ben Gueddour said he and two other ministers, Abdeljelil Bedoui and Houssine Dimassi, were leaving.

All three are members of the General Union of Tunisian Workers which played a key role in the protests that ousted the former president.

A cabinet announced on Monday by Prime Minister Mohamed Ghannouchi included several familiar faces from the government of Ben Ali.

The prime minister, the ministers for defence, foreign affairs, internal affairs and finance, were unchanged.

More riots

Tuesday saw new demonstrations in Tunis and reports of protests in Sfax, Regueb, Kasserine and Sidi Bouzid - where the revolt began when a vegetable trader set himself on fire on 17 December after police seized his grocery cart.

Around 100 protesters chanted slogans against the RCD party of the ousted president.

We can live on bread and water alone but not with the RCD, they said.

Riot police were deployed in central Tunis where they broke up at least one rally.

Earlier, Switzerland said an inquiry had been opened to establish if Mr Ben Ali, his family and close associates had deposited funds in Switzerland.

It's now reported that the interim president and prime minister have quit the ruling RCD party.