In Tunisia, A New Era Emerges As Longtime Leader Departs


A startling power shift in restive Tunisia inched forward Saturday as the country's parliament speaker assumed the interim presidency and the country's former longtime leader took refuge with his family in Saudi Arabia.

In a change of government driven by days of angry street protests, Tunisian state TV reported that Fouad Mebazaa is now the country's acting leader and presidential elections will be held in 60 days.

The move corresponds to an article in Tunisia's constitution that says power will be transferred to the parliament speaker when the president resigns, dies or is unable to perform his responsibilities.

Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, the former president with a reputation for ruthlessness and corruption, fled to Jeddah after ruling his country since 1987, and was welcomed by the Saudi Arabian king.