Riots Break Out as Tunisia Ministers Quit

Government in crisis a day after it formed
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jan 18, 2011 9:28 AM CST
Riots Break Out as Tunisia Ministers Quit
A protestor faces soldiers during a demonstration against the Constitutional Democratic Rally, RCD, party of Ben Ali in the center of Tunis, Tuesday, Jan. 18, 2011.   (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)

(Newser) – Tunisia's day-old government was shaken by the resignation of four ministers today, undermining its hopes of quelling simmering unrest by sharing power with members of the opposition to the old regime. All four who resigned were opponents of deposed President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali's iron-fisted 23-year rule, and protesters demanded that the new cabinet be purged of the old guard that served Ben Ali.

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Three of the ministers are members of a top labor union, a movement that acts like a lobby and has a big nationwide base to mobilize people around the country. The group's supporters staged the protest in central Tunis today, calling for a general strike, constitutional changes, and the release of all imprisoned union leaders. Clashes broke out after the resignations were announced, with riot police pummeling protesters with batons and shooting tear gas into the crowds. (Read more Tunisia stories.)

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