Arab Precedent: Tunisian Protests Oust President

He apparently flees country after weeks of unrest

By Nick McMaster,  Newser Staff

Posted Jan 14, 2011 1:56 PM CST

(Newser) – Tunisia President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali has resigned amid riots that have claimed at least 23 lives, the BBC reports. Ben Ali had dissolved the government and promised to quit in 2014, but his delay tactic was apparently not enough for the disgruntled Tunisian populace, fed up after 23 years of the president's rule. According to unconfirmed reports, Ben Ali has fled the country.

Prime Minister Mohammed Ghannouchi will serve as interim president. He promised in a televised announcement to "respect the law and to carry out the political, economic and social reforms that have been announced." A BBC analyst says it's historic that the population of an Arab nation has risen up to force the resignation of an autocrat—and that the Tunisian riots could set a tumultuous precedent for the Muslim world.

Prime Minister of Tunisia Mohammed Ghannouchi appears on state television Friday.
Prime Minister of Tunisia Mohammed Ghannouchi appears on state television Friday.   (AP Photo)
RIot police officers detain a protester during clashes in Tunis Friday.
RIot police officers detain a protester during clashes in Tunis Friday.   (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)
Demonstrators throw stones at police during clashes in Tunis Friday.
Demonstrators throw stones at police during clashes in Tunis Friday.   (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)
A file photo of Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.
A file photo of Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.   (AP Photo/Hassene Dridi, dapd, File)
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