Tunisian PM Mohamed Ghannouchi Pledges To Quit Politics

Tunisia's prime minister has promised to leave politics after elections being planned in the wake of President Zine al-Abedine Ben Ali's fall last week. In a TV interview, long-serving PM Mohamed Ghannouchi said he would quit "in the shortest possible timeframe". His transition government has promised to hold polls within six months, but it has so far not set a date.

(BBC)

Tunisia's prime minister has promised to leave politics after elections being planned in the wake of President Zine al-Abedine Ben Ali's fall last week.

Protests have continued against leaders of Mr Ben Ali's partyIn a TV interview, long-serving PM Mohamed Ghannouchi said he would quit "in the shortest possible timeframe".

His transition government has promised to hold polls within six months, but it has so far not set a date.

Mr Ben Ali fled to Saudi Arabia on 14 January. Protesters say all figures linked to his regime should quit.

Mr Ghannouchi was a key ally of the ousted president, and has been struggling to restore calm under the new national unity government.

In his TV interview late on Friday, he said he would retire from public life after the elections, and promised that all "anti-democratic laws" would be repealed by the transition cabinet.

He added that under Mr Ben Ali, he had been "afraid, like all Tunisians".

At least 78 people have been killed since a wave of protests began last December.

Three days of mourning began on Friday.

Tunisian Prime Minister Mohamed Ghannouchi (R) is pictured as he meets opposition leaders to compose a government

'National salvation'

Mr Ghannouchi has left Mr Ben Ali's RCD party and said his interim government needs "clean hands" - but he has also said the transition to democracy needs experienced politicians.

Meanwhile the country's main trade union, the General Tunisian Workers' Union (UGTT), has called for a new administration with no links with the ousted regime.

Riot police clash with a protest rally against Tunisia's new government in the centre of the capital

The UGTT's deputy head, Abid Briki, told the AFP news agency that such a "national salvation government" was "in accordance with the demands of the street and political parties".

The government has faced continuing protests against figures from the previous regime remaining in positions of power.

Last week, four opposition ministers quit over the issue, just one day after the cabinet was formed.

Protester in Tunis A protester in Tunis, where there is growing concern for political prisoners.

The interim cabinet has promised to release all political prisoners and said previously banned political groups will now be legal.

Mr Ben Ali fled to Saudi Arabia following a wave of demonstrations attributed to anger over unemployment and resentment about a lack of political freedom.

The protests began after a man set himself on fire in central Tunisia on 17 December.
 

bbc