Two Tunisian ministers quit

Remaining ministers who served under ousted President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali quit after protesters demand they resign.

    Chelbi, right, quit government a day after Mohammed Ghannouchi  resigned as Tunisia's prime minister [AFP]

    The two remaining Tunisian ministers who had previously served under ousted President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali have quit.

    Mohamed Nouri Jouini, Tunisian minister for planning and international cooperation, resigned hours after another minister also stepped down, the official TAP news agency reported.

    Jouini's resignation on Monday follows Mohamed Afif Chelbi quitting as the country's industry and technology minister. 

    Tunisian Prime Minister Mohamed Ghannouchi announced his own resignation on Sunday.

    Protesters in the country had demanded all ministers associated with Ben Ali's regime quit the interim government, led until the weekend by Ghannouchi, who was prime minister since the time of Ben Ali.

    After Ghannouchi resigned, he was swiftly replaced by 84-year-old Al-Baji Ca'ed al-Sebsi, a former minister who served under independent Tunisia's founding president, Habib Bourguiba.

    Meanwhile, In a statement posted on its website, the Tunis stock exchange said it was suspending all operations with immediate effect "in view of the current situation and with the aim of protecting savings invested in equities".

    Tunisia has been struggling to restore stability since Ben Ali, who had been in power for 23 years, was forced from office in January by a wave of anti-government protests.

    Purge demanded

    Protesters camping outside government offices in the capital Tunis for over a week, were demanding that the government be purged of ministers with links to Ben Ali.

    "We will continue our sit-in until the formation of a constituent assembly and the recognition of the Council for the Protection of the Revolution," Mohamed Fadhel, a protest co-ordinator, said.

    Demonstrators are wary that the weeks-long uprising that ended Ben Ali's rule on January 14, and triggered revolts elsewhere in the Arab world, could be hijacked by members of the old regime still in positions of authority.

    After leaving his post on Sunday, Ghannouchi said "I am not running away from responsibility ... This is to open the way for a new prime minister.

    "I am not ready to be the person who takes decisions that would end up causing casualties," added the former prime minister, who had led Tunisia since Ben Ali fled the country.

    "He's been under real pressure since he took over, and that pressure increased in the past 48 hours," Nazanine Moshiri, Al Jazeera's correspondent in eastern Tunisia, said on Sunday.

    Protesters have also demanded the establishment of a parliamentary system. The interim government has meanwhile pledged elections by mid-July.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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