Tunisia protest against new cabinet


A protester addresses riot police officers during a demonstration against the RCD party in Tunis (AP)

Hundreds of protesters have marched through Tunisia’s capital demanding that allies of the exiled president are removed from power.

The activists sang nationalist songs and held up signs proclaiming “RCD Out!” – referring to the former ruling party – as they walked down Avenue Bourguiba in central Tunis.

A spokesman for prime minister Mohamed Ghannouchi said ministers who remained in the new interim government were debating whether to hold their first meeting on Wednesday or Thursday.

Four new ministers resigned within 24 hours after being appointed to the unprecedented multi-party cabinet, weakening its prospects.

A popular uprising removed president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali on Friday after 23 years in power and the caretaker government run by his prime minister is struggling to calm tensions.

The unrest has also rattled Tunisia’s economy, which has seen impressive growth in recent years.

Unions, students and members of the Ennahdha Islamist party – which Ben Ali banned in 1992 and cracked down upon for years – have been among those protesting since his downfall.

A new unity government announced on Monday was mostly made up of old guard politicians.

A day later, at least four opposition ministers quit, aligning themselves with demonstrators who insist democratic change is impossible with former Ben Ali supporters still in power.

Ghannouchi and interim president Fouad Mebazaa, the former speaker of the lower house of parliament, quit the ruling RCD party on Tuesday in an attempt to distance themselves from Ben Ali.

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