Tunisia Forms National Unity Government Amid Unrest


Tunisian Prime Minister Mohammed Ghannouchi said the new government would work ""towards democracy""Tunisia has formed a national unity government, the country's prime minister has announced, days after a popular revolt ousted the president.

The foreign, interior and defence ministers are to retain their jobs, with several opposition figures joining the government. The government will be led by incumbent Prime Minister Mohammed Ghannouchi, and aims to prepare Tunisia for elections.

He also announced a series of measures to open up political and media freedom.

All political parties would be allowed to operate in Tunisia, political prisoners will be freed and the media will be permitted ""total freedom"", Mr Ghannouchi said.

""We have decided to free all the people imprisoned for their ideas, their beliefs or for having expressed dissenting opinions,"" the AFP news agency reported him as saying.

The announcement of the new government included a pledge to abolish Tunisia's information ministry and to create a state where the media had ""total freedom"". Separately, a French photographer was confirmed dead on Monday from injuries sustained when he was hit in the head by a tear gas canister.

Lucas Dolega, 32, worked for the EPA press agency. In a statement, France's foreign ministry said he was the victim of a ""deliberate homicide"".Unveiling his new administration, Mohammed Ghannouchi named three prominent opposition figures to key posts in the government.

Ahmed Ibrahim, leader of the opposition Ettajdid party, becomes minister of higher education, while Mustafa Ben Jaafar, of the Union of Freedom and Labour, is to serve as health minister.

Najib Chebbie, founder of the Progressive Democratic Party, was named as Tunisia's new development minister."