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Tunisia. Three ministers resign from coalition government

Officials with the country's main labor union, the UGTT, announced Tuesday that the group's three ministers were withdrawing because the union has decided it will not recognize the new government.

One resigning minister had been appointed to head training and employment. The other two were also named to junior positions.

The Associated Press says the health minister, who is from another opposition party, also stepped down.

On Monday, Prime Minister Mohamed Ghannouchi announced a coalition government that included the current ministers of defense, interior, foreign affairs and finance. He announced lower-level Cabinet positions for several opposition figures.

However, the unrest continued in the capital, Tunis, on Tuesday with some demonstrators marching to protest the selection of a new government that includes many members of ousted President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali's ruling party.

The former president fled the country Friday after a month of protests and rioting sparked by widespread unemployment and high food prices. His departure ended more than two decades of authoritarian rule.

Police in Tunis fired tear gas to disperse protesters, Tuesday, a day after more than 1,000 people took to the streets in the capital where they called for a complete eradication of the old ruling party.

The capital remains occupied by military tanks and heavily armed riot police, while many stores and businesses are closed. A ban on public assemblies is in place, as well as a strict nighttime curfew.

Tunisia's Interior Ministry said Monday that 78 people have died in the month-long violence. The government previously put the number of fatalities at 23. Unofficial estimates put the death toll at around 100.

Prime Minister Ghannouchi said Tunisia will work toward transparent, fair elections under the supervision of international observers. A presidential poll is to be held within 60 days.

Jan. 18, 2011

© VOA -


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