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Tunisia's prime minister Mohamed Ghannouchi appears on Tunisia's TV7 to announce that he was assuming the powers of president Ben Ali.
Tunisia's prime minister Mohamed Ghannouchi appears on Tunisia's TV7 to announce that he was assuming the powers of president Ben Ali.
Image: TV7/Storyful

Prime minister takes over in Tunisian 'internal coup'

President Ben Ali is forced to flee – probably to France – as the Prime Minister assumes power and ends weeks of riots.
Jan 14th 2011, 7:59 PM 628 0

TUNISIAN PRESIDENT Zein al-Abidine Ben Ali has fled the country, as the nation’s cabinet assumed power in a full revolution.

Amid further violence in the capital, Tunis, Ben Ali had earlier sacked the entire cabinet and declared a state of emergency in the African nation – but, as popular pressure on his leadership grew, he fled to Paris, where he was set to seek refuge.

The country’s prime minister, Mohamed al-Ghannouchi, appeared on television to announce that he was assuming the president’s authorities because Ben Ali was unable to discharge his own functions, though later reports suggested that the parliamentary speaker was to be appointed Acting President while the unrest in the country subsided.

In the hours before he fled, Ben Ali had ordered the formation of a new government, and later the dissolution of the country’s parliament – but as the instructions went ignored, he escaped the country.

The terms of the state of emergency had outlawed all gatherings with more than three people, and imposed a curfew which Ben Ali had hoped would quell the popular uprising against him.

The army had been deployed in Tunis on Wednesday, and in other towns and cities, to quell the protests against the country’s economic policies, which have led to high unemployment.

The Tunisian army was deployed on the streets of Tunis on Wednesday and in other towns and cities to take control of protests over the high unemployment rate and economic conditions.

Ben Ali had already dismissed the Interior Minister and the Tunisian ambassador to UNESCO had also resigned earlier in the week.

At home, the Department of Foreign Affairs said it had not received any appeal for help from Irish citizens trapped in the country; a department spokesperson told that officials would monitor the situation, but that they had had no indication yet of any Irish citizens in difficulty in Tunisia.

However, Travel Weekly says tour operator Thomas Cook is trying to fly 1,800 of its customers home from Tunis immediately. A notice on the Dept of Foreign Affairs website advises against any “non-essential travel” to Tunisia at this time. It reads:

A general strike has been called in Tunis on 14 January and further violence is expected.

Additional reporting by Susan Daly

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Gavan Reilly


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