US: Tunisia example can spur reform

Envoy from US, which backed the deposed Ben Ali, says "example" of uprising can bring reform to other parts of region.

    Moncef Marzouki, centre, a leading Tunisian opposition figure, left a protest rally after being attacked [EPA]

    The US is hoping that the "example" of the Tunisian uprising will bring reform to other parts of the region, Jeffrey Feltman, the country's top-ranking envoy for the Middle East, has said on a visit to the capital Tunis.

    Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, the Tunisian president, whom the US considered one of its staunch allies, fled the country amid violent protests on 14 January 2011, after 23 years in power.

    "I certainly expect that we'll be using the Tunisian example" in talks with other Arab governments, Feltman said.

    "The challenges being faced in many parts of the world, particularly in the Arab world, are the same and we hope people will be addressing legitimate political, social, economic grievances."

    Feltman said he would travel to France on Wednesday for talks on the situation in Tunisia and Lebanon following the visit to Tunis.

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    Hundreds of people rallied for the first time in support of Tunisia's interim government on Tuesday, while thousands protested against the government in another parts of the centre of the capital.

    "Yes to the government of national unity!" and "No to a power vacuum!" the demonstrators chanted on the central Avenue Bourguiba, as they were surrounded by a crowd of anti-government protesters who tried to shout them down.

    "The current government is temporary, it's the only solution to this situation" and "All-for-nothing politics doesn't lead anywhere" read banners held up at the rally as scuffled with anti-government protesters broke out.

    The national unity government was announced on January 17 after Ben Ali's resignation and flight to Saudi Arabia.

    It has been rocked by five ministerial resignations and daily protests calling for the removal of ministers associated with Ben Ali's government.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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