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Middle East

New Tunisian government sworn in amid protest

New coalition sworn in with 30 more votes than required in the shadow of a 27-year-old cigarette vendor's death.
Last Modified: 13 Mar 2013 21:50

Moncef Marzouki, the Tunisian president, has sworn in a new government after lawmakers approved the new team in a vote.

Ali Larayedh, prime minister, and his cabinet took the oath on Wednesday, the same day that a cigarette vendor who set himself ablaze in a busy street of the capital Tunis on Tuesday died under hospital care.

"I speak to all those desperate young people, who are at the end of their patience and who see no glimmer of hope on the horizon," Marzouki said, evoking  the memory of 27-year-old Adel Khazri who died from his injuries in the morning.

"We do not forget the loss of one of our children in the same way and,  perhaps for the same reasons, as the martyr of our revolution," the president said in reference to Mohamed Bouazizi, who set himself on fire in December 2010.

Marzouki urged patience, saying the new government does "not have a magic wand to resolve the problems of
poverty and unemployment that have accumulated over three decades, but it has the unbending will to confront this tsunami of problems."

The unemployment rate is about 17 percent, and is especially high among young graduates.

Prior to immolating, Khazri referenced the youth unemployment, shouting: "This is a young man who sells cigarettes because of unemployment," on Habib Bourguiba avenue.

'Sad incident'

Larayedh's coalition of his own Ennahda party, two secular parties and independents received 139 votes, or 30 more than needed, in Wednesday's parliamentary session.

Just before the vote, Larayedh also commented on Khazri's death, calling it a "sad incident" and saying: "I hope we understood the message."

Officials said Khazri, from a very poor family in the northwestern Jendouba area, had arrived in the capital a few months ago to look for work.

Around 30 angry street vendors organised a demonstration Wednesday near the municipal theatre on Habib Bourguiba Avenue - epicentre of the uprising - where Khazri had set himself alight.

They shouted "shame on the government, the youth are burning." Khazri's brother Issam said he is to be buried on Thursday in the northwestern town of Souk Jemaa.

Street vendors took to the streets after Khadri's death to express their dissatisfaction with the government.

In December 2010, street vendor Bouazizi died of his injuries after setting himself alight on December 17, 2010, in the town of Sidi Bouzid after a policewoman confiscated his fruit cart.

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Source:
Al Jazeera And Agencies
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