Tunisia Issues Arrest Warrant For Ousted Leader

The restive North African nation of Tunisia has issued an international arrest warrant for its ousted president, Tunisian media reported. Tunisian Justice Minister Lazhar Karoui Chebbi on Wednesday announced that the warrant had been brought against Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, according to Tunis Afrique Presse, or TAP, the country's official news agency.

Tunisian authorities issued an international arrest warrant for Zen El Abidine Ben Ali, who ruled the country since 1987.

The restive North African nation of Tunisia has issued an international arrest warrant for its ousted president, Tunisian media reported.

Tunisian Justice Minister Lazhar Karoui Chebbi on Wednesday announced that the warrant had been brought against Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, according to Tunis Afrique Presse, or TAP, the country's official news agency.

Ben Ali, who ruled Tunisia since 1987, fled to Saudi Arabia earlier this month amid mass public protests against the government for corruption, poor living conditions, high unemployment and repression.

The grass-roots protest has emboldened people in Egypt and Algeria to take their complaints to the streets.

It also has generated admiration across the world. For example, in his State of the Union address on Tuesday night, President Barack Obama made reference to Ben Ali's rule, saying "the will of the people proved more powerful than the writ of a dictator."

An interim government was formed after Ben Ali's departure, and protesters are demanding that none of the people in the government should have links to the ousted president's regime. Changes in the government makeup were expected on Wednesday, TAP reported.

The government will provide compensation to the families of people who died in the recent unrest and others who were injured. It will also pass along aid for jobless higher education graduates, TAP reported.

More than 100 people were killed in protests in recent weeks, the United Nations has said.

Tunisians have expressed outrage over the actions of the president and his family.

Last week, Tunisia's new government interrogated 33 people from Ben Ali's entourage, a top official said Friday, while 1,200 others who have "spread terror among the population carried out unacceptable acts" have been arrested, TAP reported.

Tunisia's Interior Minister Ahmed Friaa announced the arrests in a news conference, saying that "33 members of families close to the former president have been brought to justice and are now being interrogated."

"These people's jewels and huge sums of money in their possession have been seized," the TAP news agency reported, citing Friaa, a holdover from the previous government.

Some of the 1,200 people arrested by the new government have been released, Friaa said, while 382 others face charges such as carrying illegal firearms, looting and committing violence.

CNN