Jan 16 (KATAKAMI.COM /VOA) — Tunisia’s acting leadership moved Sunday to form a coalition government, after the ouster last week of former strongman Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, who ruled for 23-years.
Parliamentary Speaker Fouad Mebazza was sworn in as interim president Saturday, a day after President Ben Ali fled to Saudi Arabia.
Mr. Mebazza said he had asked the country’s prime minister to form a unity government.
The country’s constitutional council said new presidential elections should be held within 60 days.
There were reports of gunfire in Tunis Saturday, as police and army tanks patrolled city streets still littered with debris from overnight riots and looting. But there was no sign of new violence Sunday.
Mr. Ben Ali fled the country following weeks of street demonstrations and rioting fueled by anger over a lack of jobs and official corruption. He had served as Tunisia’s president for the past 23 years.
Activists in Egypt cheered Mr. Ben Ali’s ouster and said they hope the rebellion will inspire a similar movement challenging Egypt’s long-serving president, Hosni Mubarak.
The Egyptian government Saturday affirmed Egypt’s support for “the choices of the Tunisian people.” The foreign ministry issued a statement saying Egypt is confident Tunisians will not allow the country to descend into chaos.
The Cairo-based Arab League issued its own a statement urging Tunisia’s political forces to show unity in order to keep the peace.
The African Union Peace and Security Council says it recognizes Parliamentary Speaker Mebazza as Tunisia’s interim leader.
And in France, Tunisia’s former colonial master, President Nicolas Sarkozy offered to support Tunisia’s democratic process. (*)