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Page last updated at 19:38 GMT, Friday, 14 January 2011

Turmoil in Tunisia: As it happened on Friday

Tear gas was fired at protesters in central Tunis

Tunisian President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali has resigned and left the country after a month of protests over unemployment and high food prices. The announcement was made on state TV by Prime Minister Mohamed Ghannouchi, who said he was assuming power. It came after thousands of people marched through the capital.

LIVE TEXT COMMENTARY (all times GMT)

0115: That concludes our live coverage of a day of remarkable events in Tunisia, which saw the fall of a president after 23 years in power, and a call from his successor for all Tunisians to unite. Join us later on Saturday for further live coverage of developments in the country and reaction across the region.

0055:Official Saudi Press Agency has issued the following statement, confirming Mr Ben Ali's arrival: "Out of concern for the exceptional circumstances facing the brotherly Tunisian people and in support of the security and stability of their country... the Saudi government has welcomed President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali and his family to the kingdom."

0050: Saudi Arabia confirms that a plane carrying the ousted Tunisian president and his family has landed in Jeddah.

0030: With Tunisia under curfew and the ousted president staying out of sight, thoughts are turning to Saturday - likely to be another tense day on the streets as the interim leader, Mohamed Ghannouchi, hopes to begin talks on forming a government. There are also concerns about whether the veteran prime minister is himself acceptable to the protesters who brought down Mr Ben Ali. Will Tunisia see a day of calm?

0020: Still no confirmation of Mr Ben Ali's whereabouts. However, the AFP news agency quotes an unnamed Saudi official saying his plane did indeed land in Jeddah. The ousted leader disembarked and went to the airport's VIP lounge, the official told AFP.

2339: A new twist emerges from Saudi Arabia: Saudi-based TV network al-Arabiya reports that a plane possibly carrying Mr Ben Ali has arrived in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. As with all reports of his movements so far tonight, that report remains unconfirmed.

2331: The plot thickens: reports now emerging from Italian police are suggesting that Mr Ben Ali may not have been on the plane that landed in Sardinia at all. Two pilots and a flight attendant were found on the plane, Italian police say.

2318: Despite the ongoing interest in where the ousted president might end up, Tunisia's immediate future will be decided at home, not abroad. Ahmed Bouazzi, spokesman for the Progressive Democratic Party - an opposition grouping - told the BBC they would join coalition talks planned for Saturday. "If we think that this is to do with the salvation of the country, we will participate, but with our [own] conditions," he said.

2253: Italian authorities have not confirmed whether Mr Ben Ali was on board a plane that landed at Cagliari. However, reports say the plane landed after declaring an emergency, possibly because of a lack of fuel. The plane was promptly ordered to take off again once it had refuelled, airport sources said.

2231: We're still awaiting confirmation of Mr Ben Ali's final destination. Latest reports have his plane landing in Sardinia, Italy. The Al-Arabiya TV station says the stop is for refuelling.

2208: UK Foreign Secretary William Hague is also seeking swift and plausible elections in Tunisia. "I am calling for a rapid return to law and order, restraint from all sides, an orderly move towards free and fair elections and an immediate expansion of political freedoms in Tunisia." Mr Hague also urged British tourists still in Tunisia to listen to advice form their tour operators and to avoid rallies and protests.

2147: The European Union has joined the calls for calm: "Dialogue is key. We reiterate our engagement with Tunisia and its people and our willingness to help find lasting democratic solutions to the ongoing crisis," foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton and enlargement commissioner Stefan Fuele said.

2141: Back in Tunisia, interim leader Mohamed Ghannouchi is to meet political leaders on Saturday in an effort to form a government, according to reports.

2135: Meanwhile, little is certain about Mr Ben Ali's final destination. Dubai-based TV station al-Arabiya said his plane was heading to the Gulf "waiting for any state to receive it".

2132: One French government source has spoken to the country's AFP news agency on the decision not to admit Tunisia's ousted president. "There are a million Tunisians in France, most of them anti-Ben Ali," the agency quoted him as saying.

2112: With France apparently no longer an option for Tunisia's ousted president, Arabic TV networks report that Mr Ben Ali is now heading for the Gulf.

2103: In Washington, President Barack Obama has said he applauds the "courage and dignity" of the Tunisian people. Calling the events a "brave and determined struggle" for universal rights, Mr Obama urged calm and said he hoped free and fair elections could be held in the near future.

2059: Reports emerging from France suggest Mr Ben Ali has been refused permission to land there. Newspaper Le Monde and TV station i-Tele say the decision was made by President Nicolas Sarkozy himself.

2045: The BBC's Jon Leyne, in Egypt, says there's really no way to predict how govenrments and peoples across the Arab world will respond. Countries across the region have also been suffering from spiralling food prices and tough economic conditions. And like Tunisia, most have only the thinnest veneer of democracy, and little way for the people to express their frustration. But so far there have been only limited protests elsewhere, our correspondent says.

2034: An aide to Sakher Materi, son-in-law of Mr Ben Ali, denies that he is under arrest, telling Reuters Mr Materi is currently in Dubai.

2020: The latest from France on the possibility of an asylum request from Mr Ben Ali: "If this request were made, France would respond in consultation with the Tunisian constitutional authorities," a government spokesman told Reuters.

2014: UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has spoken of his concern. "The political situation is developing fast and every effort must be made by all concerned parties to establish dialogue and resolve problems peacefully to prevent further loss, violence and escalations," Mr Ban said, pledging to remain in contact with all parties.


2003: Apart from Mr Ben Ali himself, mystery still surrounds the whereabouts of his family. One private TV station in Tunisia, Nessma, has now broadcast unconfirmed reports that several of the ousted president's relatives have been arrested, including his son-in-law, one of the country's most prominent businessmen.

2000: Meanwhile, an official in France tells the country's AFP news agency that France has received no application for asylum from Mr Ben Ali - but would consult Tunisia if one was made.


1955: More details on Mr Ben Ali's reported flight to France: the BBC's Christian Fraser says French authorities are now on standby for his arrival some time on Friday evening, and there are reports that some members of his family have already arrived on another flight.

1929: French President Nicolas Sarkozy says he "takes note of the constitutional transition" in Tunisia. France hopes for a peaceful resolution to the last month of unrest, and believes only dialogue can bring democratic change, he adds.

1929: An unnamed police source tells the Reuters news agency that officers have been told to await the arrival of Mr Ben Ali at an airport near Paris late on Friday.

1923: A spokesman for Maltese Foreign Affairs Minister Tonio Borg says Mr Ben Ali is "not coming to Malta and the government has no indications he'll be coming to Malta". "The plane is going north," he tells the AFP news agency. Italy's foreign ministry meanwhile says he is "absolutely not" on his way there.

1923: A spokesman for Maltese Foreign Affairs Minister Tonio Borg says Mr Ben Ali is "not coming to Malta and the government has no indications he'll be coming to Malta". "The plane is going north," he tells the AFP news agency. Italy's foreign ministry meanwhile says he is "absolutely not" on his way there.

1908: Here are some facts about Mohamed Ghannouchi: He was born in 1941 in the coastal town of Sousse; has a degree in economics; was part of a team which entered government when Mr Ben Ali was appointed prime minister by Tunisia's previous President, Habib Bourguiba; is a leading member of the ruling Constitutional Democratic Rally party; and served as finance minister and international co-operation minister before becoming prime minister in 1999.

1901: Ahmed Abdul Aziz in Cairo, Egypt, tells the BBC World Service's World Have Your Say: "I'd like to congratulate the Tunisian people on the success of their peaceful revolution. They are opening the door for us; all Arab people live under the same circumstances, under the same oppressive regimes, the same dictators. What the Tunisian people did we will do in Egypt, in Syria and all over the Arabic world."

1859: Asked about reports that Mr Ben Ali has flown to Malta, the Maltese High Commission in London says: "We have not been informed that he is coming to Malta. However, we have had a contact made with the control tower at Luqa Airport asking if they can pass through the airspace." Pressed further, the High Commission said it could not categorically confirm Mr Ben Ali was actually on the plane.

1854: Shots are heard in central Tunis despite the curfew imposed under the state of emergency, the AFP news agency reports.

1846: Here's the full statement from Prime Minister Mohamed Ghannouchi: "Citizens, men and women! In accordance with the provisions of chapter 56 of the constitution, which stipulates that in case of the impossibility of the president to conduct his duties temporarily, he would delegate his prerogatives to the prime minister. Given the difficulty for the president of the republic to carry out his duties temporarily, I will, starting from now, exercise the prerogatives of the president of the republic. I urge all sons and daughters of Tunisia - of all ideological and political persuasions and of all sections and regions - to show the spirit of patriotism and unity in order to enable our country, which is dear to all of us, to overcome this difficult juncture and to ensure its security and stability. While I assume this responsibility, I promise to respect the constitution and to carry out political, economic and social reforms which have been announced. I will do so with perfection and through consultation with all national bodies - including political parties, national organisations and civil society components. May God grant me success!"

1838: Ali in Tunisia tells the BBC World Service's Have Your Say: "Today I'm a free Tunisian citizen. It's the first time in my life I can say that."

1836: Ali in Tunisia tells the BBC World Service's World Have Your Say: The White House now says it believes the Tunisian people "have the right to choose their leaders".

1831: The White House now says it believes the Tunisian people "have the right to choose their leaders".

1830: The BBC's Christian Fraser says Mr Ben Ali has gone to Malta, however there has been no confirmation from the Maltese authorities.

Magdi Abdelhadi
1823: The BBC's Magdi Abdelhadi says it has been an extremely dramatic day for Tunisia and the region. "It looks like 14 January will go down in history as the day that an Arab nation rose up and brought down a head of state whom it regarded as a dictator," he says. "This is unprecedented and will have a far-reaching effect - it may rattle the entire post-colonial order in North Africa and the wider Arab world."

1819: The French foreign ministry says it has no information on a report by al-Jazeera TV that Mr Ben Ali has arrived in Paris.

1812: The White House says it is monitoring developments in Tunisia, but makes no mention of the change of power. "We condemn the ongoing violence against civilians in Tunisia, and call on the Tunisian authorities to fulfil the important commitments made by President Ben Ali in his speech yesterday to the Tunisian people, including respect for basic human rights and a process of much-needed political reform," spokesman Mike Hammer says in a statement.

1802: Mr Ghannouchi called on "Tunisians of all political persuasions and from all regions to demonstrate patriotism and unity".

1758: Mr Ghannouchi said he was taking over as interim president because Mr Ben Ali was "temporarily unable to exercise his duties". He did not say whether the president had left the country.

Mohamed Ghannouchi said he was taking over as interim president

1749: Mr Ghannouchi vowed to respect the constitution and restore stability. It is unclear whether Mr Ben Ali has left the country, but al-Arabiya reports that he is flying to Malta under Libyan protection.

1745: President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali has stepped down. Prime Minister Mohamed Ghannouchi has taken over as interim president.

1736: Two sources close to the government confirm to the AFP news agency that President Ben Ali has left Tunisia. Tunisian state television has said it is expecting the announcement of an "historic decision" which will satisfy the desires of the country's people.

1735: Air France has temporarily suspended all flights to Tunis due to the state of emergency and the closure of air space.

1733: Sources tell al-Jazeera TV that President Ben Ali has left the country and that the army is in control.

1732: Saudi-based al-Arabiya TV reports that Tunisian Parliamentary Speaker Fouad Mbazaa will announce shortly that he is taking over control of the country from the president.

1724: Sources tell al-Jazeera TV that the Tunisian security forces have arrested members of Trabelsi family at an airport. Many of the protesters have expressed their anger at the power, wealth and influence of the extended family of President Ben Ali's second wife, Leila Trabelsi. "No, no to the Trabelsis who looted the budget," has been a popular slogan. Many refer to the president's relations simply as "The Family" or "The Mafia", according to the New York Times.

1719: Mahmoud Ben Romdhane of the opposition Renewal Movement tells BBC World News: "At this moment, according to the latest information that I have, the president it no longer in power and a coup has happened. If this information is true, the answer is clear. He will no longer have the power to decide to accept or refuse [the demands for him to step down]."

1705: State television says a major announcement to the Tunisian people is to be made soon, according to the Reuters news agency.

1703: Richard Field, a British teacher based in the centre of Tunis, tells the BBC that gangs of youths have been "going everywhere, trying to break everything they can... pulling down road signs, smashing windows". "[They are] just looking for something to break. They haven't got enough police from what I saw. The gangs were more numerous. I think the police looked a bit scared themselves."

1654: The Tunisian authorities have released Hamma Hammami, the leader of the banned Tunisian Workers' Communist Party (POCT), three days after arresting him, his party tells the AFP news agency.

1650: France's foreign ministry says that "given the unstable situation", its citizens should avoid travelling to Tunisia unless it is urgent, according to the Reuters news agency. About 1.5 million French people visit Tunisia each year and about 21,000 are residents.

1646: A source at Tunis Carthage airport tells the AFP news agency that the army has taken control there and that the country's airspace has been shut down.

e-mail sent in by reader
Tony in La Marsa writes: "At the moment I can see smoke rising about 0.5km away. We had a look around and saw one of the Tunisian banks and an official building burnt out. We heard gunfire and tear gas being let off last night. Apparently, there are looters about. I'm not planning to leave if it gets worse. I feel safe enough to stay and I'm not in the thick of it."

1628: BBC Monitoring reports that emotions ran high in one debate on Tunisian TV7, in which one of the pundits screamed: "People are being shot dead with live ammunition. How can you praise the president?" He then turned to the camera and said: "Ben Ali, as you know him, is dead." The debate was immediately cut short. Shortly after, a TV technician sat in the studio, next to the newsreader, and went on apologise to the public and condemn his own channel's coverage of events, saying they were government employees and they were doing what they had been asked to do.

1626: The full announcement by state television was as follows: "The president has given orders to Prime Minister Mohamed Ghannouchi to create a new government. Following acts of violence, it has been decided to introduce a state of emergency in the country to protect Tunisian citizens. This state of emergency means that any gathering of more than three people is forbidden, that arms will be used by security forces in cases where a suspect does not stop when asked to do so by the police and thirdly, a curfew [is imposed] from 1700 this evening until 0700 in the morning for an indefinite period."

1617: The government has also warned that "arms will be used" if the orders of the security forces are not obeyed.

1615: Under the terms of the state of emergency, the government has banned any meetings outside of more than three people, according to state television. There will also be a nationwide curfew from 1700 (1600 GMT) until 0700 (0600 GMT).

1604: A state of emergency has been declared "to protect the Tunisian people and their properties on all the soil of the Tunisian Republic", Tunisian TV7 reports.

A fire near a portrait of President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali in Tunis (14 January 2011)
The government has declared a state of emergency and banned public meetings

1551: UN human rights spokesman Rupert Colville says it is ready to help investigate the reports that more than 60 protesters have been shot dead by the security forces in the past week. "We've made it clear we believe there needs to be investigations. A large number of people have been killed and there are very serious allegations of the manner of these killings," he tells reporters in Geneva.

1544: There have been violent clashes between protesters and the police in the centre of Tunis, according to the AFP news agency.

e-mail sent in by reader
Anouar in Birmingham writes: "I am so proud of being Tunisian. We are witnessing a historic moment. It feels like a dream after 23 years of oppression and tyranny decided to take their fate into their own hands. President Ben Ali still thinks that people are naive and that they can be easily manipulated. Now it's for us to choose our own destiny and hopefully the west will leave us alone, especially the French colonialists."

1523: Prime Minister Mohamed Ghannouchi says he has been tasked with forming a new administration.

1521: President Ben Ali has dismissed the government and called legislative elections within six months, state television reports.

1518: The government has put the death toll at 23, but the Paris-based International Federation for Human Rights said on Thursday that it had the names of 66 people killed.

1513: Asked about last night's reported fatalities, a medical source tells AFP: "The bodies of three people struck with bullets were taken to the hospital at Kram, close to Tunis, and 10 others have been brought to Charles Nicolle hospital in Tunis."

1502: Asked about last night's reported fatalities, a medical source tells AFP: "The bodies of three people struck with bullets were taken to the hospital at Kram, close to Tunis, and 10 others have been brought to Charles Nicolle hospital in Tunis."

1454: Thirteen civilians were shot dead by the security forces in Tunis and its suburbs in clashes on Thursday, medical sources tell the AFP news agency. Reuters meanwhile says 12 died - 10 in the capital and two in the coastal town of Ras Jebel. Tunisian officials have not yet commented. It is not clear if the deaths came after President Ben Ali ordered police to stop using lethal force against demonstrators.

1447: Dubai-based al-Arabiya TV says protesters are trying to "storm" the Central Bank in Tunis. The bank is on Avenue Mohamed V, to the north of the interior ministry.

1435: Emen Binmluka, a 21-year-old protester, tells Reuters: "A bus came with police in it and they started firing tear gas. Women, children and everyone fled."

1426: Protesters have been sent fleeing down Bourguiba Avenue by the volleys of tear gas fired by riot police outside the interior ministry. The Reuters news agency say a crowd of youths have begun retaliating by throwing stones.

Youths throw stones at police after tear gas is fired in central Tunis (14 January 2011)
Youths threw stones at police after they fired volleys of tear gas

1426: Protesters have been sent fleeing down Bourguiba Avenue by the volleys of tear gas fired by riot police outside the interior ministry. The Reuters news agency say a crowd of youths have begun retaliating by throwing stones.

1415: But Kemal, a father of two who lives in a suburb of Tunis, takes a different view of Mr Ben Ali. "I think he's a sincere guy," he says. "In the last few years he's been a little bit ill and therefore probably getting some unfortunate advice from people who do have different agendas. I don't know what the alternative is. I think we need to be very careful of what we ask for when we ask for change."

1413: Ghaieth, a 23-year-old student from the coastal town of Nabul, tells the BBC World Service that nobody believes in the president any more. "He has been making promises for 23 years and for a really long period, he did nothing at all," he says.

1408: Tunisia's ambassador to the UN's cultural organisation, Unesco, has resigned in protest at the government's handling of the unrest, according to a letter seen by the AFP news agency. Mezri Haddad told the president that he had asked him to "stop the bloodbath by disarming the police". "I told you that the protesters are not against you but against the oligarchy to which you have fallen hostage and which has plundered the country's riches without cease," he added.

1402: A reporter for the Reuters news agency says gunshots have been heard near the interior ministry building. President Ben Ali said on Thursday that live ammunition would not be fired at protesters.

1355: Tear-gas canisters have been fired by the security forces at protesters outside the interior ministry, forcing many to flee. The Associated Press reports that the move came after people climbed on top of the ministry's roof.

Adam Mynott
1347: The BBC's Adam Mynott in Tunis says: Scenes like those outside the interior ministry have not been witnessed in Tunisia in the 23 years that the president has been in power. He addressed the nation on television last night promising to stop live firing by Tunisian security forces on demonstrators and to get inflation under control. His words have been greeted with some joy but also with considerable scepticism. The message from the huge crowd this morning was clear - the future for Tunisia must be one without Mr Ben Ali as leader.

Riot police deployed outside the interior ministry in Tunis (14 January 2011)
The demonstrator are surrounded by dozens of police and soldiers

e-mail sent in by reader
Sam from Birmingham writes: "My brother went to Tunisia on Wednesday - he is very worried - there are armed guards at the hotel - they cannot leave or use the internet. They want to come home with three small children."

1340: France Inter radio journalist Bernard Guetta says Tunisians do not want a revolution. "They want the departure of corrupt leaders, social fairness and freedom," he says. "They want what any people in their place would want, but this desire for justice and democracy may either be channelled so that it is realised without new violent incidents or it may lead to chaos in which the army would end up seeing itself as the last resort. Everything depends on the president."

1334: Jalloul Azzouna, the secretary-general of the League of Writers, a non-official body, tells reporters at the Tunis protest that it is demanding "a general amnesty and the release of hundreds of political prisoners whose existence is denied by the regime".

Protesters in Tunis hold up a banner saying: "Ben Ali Get Out" (14 January 2011)
President Ben Ali has been in power since 1987

1321: It was the death of a young unemployed graduate which triggered the protests. Unable to find a job after university, Muhammad Bouazizi, moved to a big city and sold vegetables on the streets. But police confiscated his unlicensed cart, and slapped and insulted him. The 26-year-old returned to his home town, Sidi Bouzid, and on 17 December stood in its main square, doused himself in petrol and set himself on fire. He died of his injuries on 4 January.

1313: Demonstrations are also being held in other towns, including Sidi Bouzid, where the unrest began a month ago over unemployment and food prices. People there are demanding the president resign. "We have come out in our thousands to say: 'Ben Ali, go away!'" trade union activist Sliman Rouissi tells the Reuters news agency.

1309: Radia Nasraoui, a lawyer at the protest in central Tunis, tells the Reuters news agency: "We want Ben Ali to go. All we've known since he's been in power has been misery, prisons, torture, repression and unfair trials. I'm a lawyer. I've been assaulted. I see traces of torture every time I meet people in Tunisian prisons. There are only unfair trials. People are sentenced to dozens of years for political opinions. People have died under torture in the interior ministry." Her husband, Workers' Communist Party leader Hamma Hammami, was arrested on Wednesday and has not been heard of since.

1303: The BBC's Aidan Lewis says a new generation of activists has been credited with driving the Tunisian protest movement forward by using the internet. This has happened despite increasingly strict controls by a government that, even before the demonstrations, was regarded as unusually zealous in its online censorship. A steady flow of protest videos, tweets, and political manifestos has continued to make its way onto the web in a variety of languages: Arabic, the Darija Tunisian dialect, French and English.

1300: The independent Pan-Arab newspaper, al-Quds al-Arabi, says in an opinion column that the Tunisian president's admission that "some officials misled me" does not absolve him of responsibility for the deaths of protesters. The paper says Mr Ben Ali's criticism of the "bad lot" around him and promise to bring them to account is unprecedented and good, but not an excuse.

1256: Tunisian medical officials tell the Associated Press that 13 people have died in new unrest in the country.

1246: Writing in the Pan-Arab daily al-Hayat, Carnegie Institute economic expert El Hassane Achie asks if the Tunisian protests are a "passing Intifada (uprising) or a turning point". He says the "specific nature enjoyed by Tunisian society regarding the level of education and their aspirations on political and economic levels, may make it more prepared for the democratic transition than other Arab states".

A protester in Tunis holds a banner reading: "The party of Ben Ali, ennemy of the people." (14 January 2011)
The protesters are demanding that President Ben Ali resign immediately

1240: One protester tells the Associated Press: "The president said he would restore justice in Tunisia. Is he going to put his family in front of a court? We want an answer - yes or no?"

1231: Maya Jridi, the secretary-general of the opposition Progressive Democratic Party (PDP) tells journalists at the demonstration in Tunis that the country needs to take a new direction. "The path to freedom has begun. The Tunisians are speaking up for dignity, for liberty, for justice, now," she says. "The time's up for [President Ben Ali's ruling Constitutional Democratic Rally party]. They can't go on any longer ruling the country like this. We want a coalition government of national unity. We absolutely need a parliament that's truly representative of the people."

1223: Essia Atrous, a journalist with the Tunisian newspaper, Assabah, tells the BBC World Service that President Ben Ali's speech was a "turning point". "The president said to the people for the first time: 'Yes I've got your message. Yes we'll work for democracy. Yes there is no presidency for life,'" he says. "When we hear this it means a lot for Tunisian people. There is a chance for hope, there is a chance for change."

1219: The French foreign ministry has welcomed President Ben Ali's offer to form a more inclusive government and urged him to continue along the path of "openness". On Thursday, the former colonial power denounced the security forces' "disproportionate use of violence".

1215: The UK Foreign Office has reviewed and reissued its travel advice for Tunisia. It now advises against all but essential travel to Tunisia by British citizens. "The situation is unpredictable and there is the potential for violence to flare up, raising the risk of getting caught up in demonstrations," a statement says.

1209: At a protest in Tunis on Thursday evening, one person told the New York Times that most people did not believe what the president said. "These are the same promises he made last week, that he made a few years ago, that he made in 1987, but on the ground it is always the same," they said.

e-mail sent in by reader
Pamela writes: "I think the opposition should meet the president halfway. His decision not to run for office in 2014 is good. The time inbetween can be used for a smooth transition to democracy. Tunisians are peace loving people and let peace and calm return to this beautiful country."

1202: President Ben Ali has been in power since 1987, when doctors declared his predecessor Habib Bourguiba unfit to govern because of senility. The takeover is sometimes described as a palace coup. He won a fifth term in office in multi-party elections in 2009. The elections were criticised by human rights groups and the opposition as unfair. Official results gave him 89% of the vote and his Constitutional Democratic Rally (RCD) party also won the majority of seats in parliament. Mr Ben Ali had been due to retire in 2004 but changes to the constitution allowed him to run for two more terms.

1153: Sana, a 17 year old from the central Tunisian town of Gafsa, tells BBC Radio 5 live she feels unsafe. "We're frightened because we feel so insecure. We can't go out. We can't go to school," she says.

The BBC's Adam Mynott describes the scene outside the interior ministry

1150: Francis Ghiles, a researcher at the Barcelona Centre for International Affairs, tells the BBC World Service that he was unconvinced by President Ben Ali's speech. "I have actually met the president and a number of people like myself who have met him and know him said they found the performance extremely unconvincing," he says. "A man who says he is going to give instructions to his security forces not to shoot live ammunition and who last Saturday had given orders to the contrary. His regime has been condoning rape, torture and god knows what for the last 23 years."

1144: The tour operator, Thomas Cook, is also evacuating 2,000 German holidaymakers from Tunisia, according to AFP. The tourism industry is key to Tunisia's economy.

1137: The AFP news agency reports that demonstrations are also taking place in other towns across the country.

e-mail sent in by reader
Liina in Tunis writes: "People are frustrated because they know that Ben Ali is giving empty words. Even though YouTube was open after the speech there are rumours that also 3 people were killed. The riots were organised by Police and Ben Ali."

1128: The British tour operator, Thomas Cook, is evacuating 1,800 customers from Tunisia. A spokesperson says: "Although there has been no specific problems for our holidaymakers, their well-being is our primary concern. So, as a precaution, we've taken the decision to bring them back to the UK as soon as we can."

1123: Wadia Amar, a university chemistry professor at the demonstration tells the Associated Press: "We want to end this dictatorship. The Ben Ali clan should be brought to justice. They've taken everything."

1119: The march was organised by Tunisia's only legal trade union, which also called a symbolic two-hour strike in the capital on Friday.

1113: A Reuters news agency reporter says the protesters are chanting "Ben Ali, leave!" and "Ben Ali, thank you but that's enough!"

Adam Mynott
1108: The BBC's Adam Mynott in Tunis says: I'm outside the interior ministry and there are extraordinary scenes. Thousands of people have gathered in a public demonstration that could not have taken place in this country 24 hours ago. This is a response to what President Ben Ali said on national television on Thursday, when he said he would allow more freedom of speech. Well, the people here are testing that. I have been told there are 6,000 or 7,000 people here. They are saying that the country now has the opportunity for change. But interestingly, they are saying that change can only happen if President Ben Ali, his extended family and his followers go. The rally is surrounded by dozens of police and soldiers, but crucially they have not so far intervened as they have in recent weeks.

1106: After President Ben Ali announced on Thursday night that he would not seek an extension to his term of office and other measures to appease protesters some people celebrated on the streets of Tunis. It is not clear if this was a spontaneous act or a celebration arranged by the followers of the president. However, correspondents say his promise to stop the security forces firing live ammunition at protesters, to cut the price of basic foodstuffs and free up the media in Tunisia do go some way to meet the concerns of Tunisians. Some critics say change needs to be much more radical to include fundamental improvements in the democratic process.

Supporters of President Ben Ali hold up a portrait of him at a rally in Tunis on 13 January 2011
Supporters of the president welcomed his speech on Thursday night

1101: In a nationwide address on Thursday, the president said he would not stand for re-election in 2014 and announced cuts in the prices of basic foods. Foreign Minister Kamel Morjane has since spoken of a national unity government being possible - as well as early parliamentary elections. The protests erupted a month ago over economic problems and the lack of basic freedoms.

Riot police during clashes in the centre of Tunis on 13 January 2010
Days of rioting in Tunisia have forced concessions from the president

1100: There have been renewed protests against the government in Tunisia. Thousands of people joined a march in the capital, Tunis, demanding that President Ben Ali resign immediately. The protesters went to the interior ministry, which is blamed for the deaths of at least 23 people in recent demonstrations. Human rights groups say the number killed is more than twice that official figure.



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