Middle-East

Tunisian Caretaker PM to Appoint New Government, Pledges to Restore Order

Tunis (Xinhua) — Tunisia’s new caretaker prime minister Beji Caid Essebsi said he would name a new government within two days, whose priority would be to restore order, and boost the country’s battered economy.

Essebsi made the announcement during a press conference broadcast on Tunisian television on March 4.

84-year-old Essebsi was appointed after his predecessor Mohamed Ghannouchi was forced to resign on Sunday after violent protests in the Tunisian capital caused the death of five people.

Six ministers and two junior ministers also resigned earlier in the week.

Essebsi told journalists that one of his priorities was to restore the state’s authority which had “fallen to inadmissible levels,” he said, adding that the Constituent Council which is due to be elected by universal suffrage on July 24 is “a major step towards democracy.”

The chief of staff of Tunisia’s armed forces, Rachid Ammar, generally considered as a hero by Tunisians for refusing orders by Ben Ali to shoot demonstrators, attended the press conference.

On March 3, Tunisia’s interim president Fouad Mebazaa announced the election of a Constituent Council whose task would be to draft a new constitution, after the amendment of the electoral code end of March.

In a related event, hundreds of protestors engaged in a sit-in since February 20 at the Kasbah Square in Tunis, have decided to evacuate the square on Friday.

Since the ouster of former president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali on January 14, the North African nation has witnessed outburst of violence and an absence of security which have considerably delayed the country’s return to stability and normality.

The latest violent turmoil in Libya has added to the current social unrest as tens of thousands of Tunisian workers were forced to flee from embattled Libya, putting a further strain on an already difficult economic situation.

Tunisia’s southern border with Libya is also caught in the middle of an international humanitarian crisis as tens of thousands of refugees fleeing from the violence in Libya are awaiting evacuation to their home countries, amidst fear of an epidemic.

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