Former Tunisian ruling party loses appeal
The RCD party of ousted president Ben Ali fails in its attempt to overturn court order banning it from July elections.
Last Modified: 28 Mar 2011 16:15
Protesters have continuously demanded Ben Ali's ruling party be dissolved [EPA]

A Tunisian court has rejected an appeal by the party of former president Zine el Abidine Ben Ali against a ruling that it be dissolved, state media has reported.

A judge had previously ruled on March 9 that Ben Ali's Constitutional Democratic Rally (RCD) be disbanded and its funds seized, provoking street celebrations as one of the last vestiges of the ousted leader's rule was dismantled.

However, the party lodged an appeal a few days later.

Monday's ruling confirmed the dissolution of the party, effectively preventing the RCD from putting forward a candidate in future elections.

Ben Ali was toppled on January 14 after mass protests and fled to Saudi Arabia, ending 23 years of rule.The country's interim authorities have struggled to restore stability in the North African country but earlier this month set out a transition road map.

On Monday, Tunisia's interim president Fouad Mebazza also named a new interior minister. The state-owned TAP news agency said Habib Sid would replace Farhat Rajhi in the post.

It said Mebazza made the appointment on the recommendation of prime minister Beji Caid Sebsi, without giving details. Rajhi, a judge, was appointed interior minister earlier this year in the second caretaker administration since Ben Ali's ousting.

He remained in his post when Tunisia's interim authorities appointed a new government on March 7 and disbanded the state security apparatus, notorious for human rights abuses under Ben Ali.

Elections called

A caretaker government of technocrats led by Sebsi, a respected figure with no ties to the ousted president, was unveiled after the collapse of two previous interim administrations which included members of Ben Ali's old guard.

An election has been called on July 24 to choose a national assembly which will rewrite the constitution.

The request to disband the RCD was filed on February 21 by the interior ministry, following accusations that party members had played a role in instability since Ben Ali was toppled.

Ben Ali loyalists fought gun battles with Tunisian soldiers shortly after his removal and were suspected of inciting subsequent clashes in parts of the country.

Ben Ali took office in 1987 and, after initial economic reforms, was widely regarded as a repressive ruler who raided state coffers while ignoring the plight of the poor.

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