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Page last updated at 19:02 GMT, Monday, 17 January 2011

Turmoil in Tunisia: As it happened on Monday

A policeman holds back protesters in Tunis, Tunisia (17 Jan 2011)

The interim leaders in Tunisia have announced the formation of a new government of national unity, after President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali was ousted on Friday and fled the country. There has been continuing unrest in the capital and around the country overnight and throughout the day, after weeks of nationwide protests in which scores of people have died.


1902 That concludes our live coverage for Monday, after another day of political turmoil and street protests in Tunisia.

Magdi Abdelhadi
1855 The BBC's Arab affairs analyst Magdi Abdelhadi says: "Tunisians are perhaps justified in their fear of the old political class. They find it hard to believe that ministers who served Ben Ali for so long can deliver the change that Tunisians have paid for with their blood."

1853 Opposition politician Hammal Hammam is unimpressed with the new government, telling BBC Arabic: "This is no more than a facelift for the previous government. We and other non-recognised parties were not invited for the consultations to form this new government."

1840 Interior Minister Ahmed Friaa says 78 people have died during the unrest, AFP news agency reports. The last official figure was 23 deaths, given before President Ben Ali fled.

1829 France has been defending itself from accusations that it could have done more to help prevent the crisis. Presidential adviser Henri Guaino told France's RTL: "Imagine that France intervened in the internal affairs of a country that's a former French colony. What would people have said? And what would people have said inside Tunisia? It's not France's role to be the policeman of the Mediterranean."

1812 Interior Minister Ahmed Friaa says the unrest has so far cost Tunisia about $2.2bn (£1.4bn), according to AFP news agency.

e-mail sent in by reader
1756 Natasha from Brighton, has just returned to the UK from Tunisia. She e-mails: "I was shocked to see dozens of empty seats on the BA flight from Tunis to Gatwick last night. Surely in a national state of emergency planes should be obliged to fill up! Anyway we landed in to Gatwick find to the sound of applause - thanks a lot to all the great BA staff I came across.

1749 At his press conference, Mr Ghannouchi said: "We are committed to intensifying our efforts to re-establish calm and peace in the hearts of all Tunisians. Our priority is security, as well as political and economic reform."

comment from blogger
1746 Blogger Ibn Kafka has criticised foreign leaders for not intervening. "Their support to the revolution would have been appreciated, and might possibly have hastened the outcome and/or limited the bloodshed," he writes.

1741 The Swedish tourists who were attacked in Tunis on Sunday have been showing video footage of their ordeal to the media.

1737 The post of interior minister remains with Ahmed Friaa - he has been in the post since 12 January, when his predecessor, Rafik Belhaj Kacem, was dismissed by Mr Ben Ali in one of his final attempts to pacify protesters before his resignation.

1732 Announcing the new government, Prime Minister Mohammed Ghannouchi said: "The task of the government is to achieve a transition to democracy by reforming the laws relating to public life, and to prepare for free and fair elections under the supervision of an independent commission and in the presence of international monitors."

1722 AFP is reporting that a Franco-German photographer who was injured by a tear gas canister while covering the protests has died. It quotes the European Pressphoto Agency (EPA) as saying Lucas Mebrouk Dolega was hurt on Friday and died on Monday afternoon.


1711 There has been much speculation that Tunisia's "Jasmine Revolution" could kick off anti-government protests in neighbouring countries. The BBC has been investigating the likelihood of such a domino effect across the Middle East.

1659 The exiled secular leftist leader Moncef Marzouki has dismissed the new government as a "masquerade". He told French media: "Ninety dead, four weeks of real revolution, only for it to come to this? A unity government in name only because, in reality, it is made up of members of the party of dictatorship, the RCD."

1656 The dawn-til-dusk curfew has been in place in the capital since last Wednesday. It was shortened by three hours on Sunday after the authorities said the security situation had improved.

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1650 The BBC's Lyse Doucet in Tunis tweets: "Tunisians heading home as night curfew looms. Will be much debate in homes across nation tonight whether new govt is new enough."


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1644 Sou Hammamet tweets: "Main ministries still under RCD but on the other hand opposition didn't deserve to govern as they were in bed with the government."

1641 Najib Chebbi, founder of the opposition PDP, has a post in government. Reuters reports he will be the minister for regional development.

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1633 Slim Amamou, an pro-democracy blogger who was arrested during the protests, tweets that he has been appointed Secretary of State for Sport and Youth.


1627 The prime minister has also announced there will be "total freedom of information". AFP quotes him as saying: "We have decided to allow all associations to have normal activities without any interference on the part of the government."

1620 "We have decided to free all the people imprisoned for their ideas, their beliefs or for having expressed dissenting opinions," said Mr Ghannouchi.

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1617 RymaIslam tweets: "I like the new government!! stop complaining people and playing the expert."

1611 The BBC's Christian Fraser in Paris says France has been in a difficult diplomatic position during the Tunisian upheaval. "Paris's muted response to the protests and repression in its former North African protectorate has raised eyebrows and drawn criticism," he says.

Lyse Doucet
1606 The BBC's Lyse Doucet in Tunis says of the protesters: "They want 100% - it's not enough for them that Ben Ali has been forced out of the country. They want all the president's allies to go as well. They want a new start, they want change from top to bottom."

Follow Lyse Doucet's tweets from Tunis on Twitter

1604 All eyes will now be on the Tunisian public, to see whether they will accept the new leaders. One protester in Tunis, Monji Amari, told Reuters earlier: "We have had enough of this party of power. We do not want to see them any more. Together with Ben Ali they are responsible for the situation that we are in now."

1602 The ministers of the defence and interior have also kept their jobs.

Magdi Abdelhadi
1557 The BBC's Arab affairs analyst Magdi Abdelhadi says: "The new line up will face the enormous task of re-gaining the confidence of the people who have just overthrown their president. Given that most of the ministers are from the party of Mr Ben Ali, that will not be easy."


1555 Tunisia's Ministry of Information has been abolished, says Mr Ghannouchi.

1549 Reuters quotes Mr Ghannouchi as saying he is committed to freeing all political prisoners.

1541 Prime Minister Mohammed Ghannouchi, an old ally of Mr Ben Ali, will remain in post in the new government.

1538 UK Foreign Office Minister David Lidington is updating the House of Commons on the situation for British citizens in Tunisia. He says there is "no indication that Britons are being targeted" in attacks but warns of the danger of being caught up in the unrest and repeats the official advice to Britons to leave the country if possible.

1535 Prime Minister Mohamed Ghannouchi says anyone with enormous wealth or who is suspected of being corrupt will be investigated, Reuters reports.

1530 Kamel Morjane, who served as foreign minister under the old government, will keep his post.

1526 AFP confirms a government has been formed. It says three opposition leaders are included and the new government will now prepare for an election.

1521Leila Bouazizi, the sister of the young man who set himself on fire in Tunisia in December, tells BBC Arabic: "My brother is alive in all of us. He offered us so much, he opened many doors for us because we can smell democracy and freedom now."

1517 Reuters is reporting that a new government has been formed - opposition leaders Ahmed Ibrahim and Mustafa Ben Jaafar have been given ministerial posts, the agency says.


1503 Ali Miaoui, who heads the French division of Tunisia's state airline, Tunisair, has praised one of the company's pilots for refusing to fly members of the former president's family into exile last week: "[The pilot] decided... not to fly... I believe he pretended he was sick or something, but in any case, he refused to fly, which later allowed members of the Trabelsi [ex-president's in-laws] family to be detained and not to travel."



1457 Amel Gaaloul, from Tunis, tells the BBC people are very reluctant to go outdoors. "People are afraid and hesitating to go out to work. If they have made it to work, many are staying there, like a lot of my colleagues. You have to take risks by going into other neighbourhoods to find supplies, which is also pretty scary as you don't know who will stop you. We just want to see calm and peace."

Wyre Davies
1449 The BBC's Wyre Davies in Tunis says after 23 years of living under a virtual dictatorship, Tunisians are discovering how their ex-president and his family lived in the lap of luxury. Television footage showed dozens of people wandering around the grounds of a luxurious villa, near the seaside resort of Hammamet, home to one of the former leader's privileged nephews. Some came just to look, others vented their anger by damaging opulent furnishings; the rest took their revenge by removing whatever they could lay their hands on. The swimming pool was the one thing they could not take away.

1437 Richard Field, originally from London, lives in Tunis, and tells the BBC he has been unable to leave his home for two days: "I will have to venture outside today to find food, but I am worried. There are still soldiers, tanks and armed police on the streets outside my home and helicopters are flying overhead. I haven't got much food left. I haven't been outside since Saturday. There are no shops open nearby. I was hoping things would settle down today, with a new government being announced."

1432 Exiled Tunisian opposition leader Moncef Marzouki tells Reuters he will be running in a presidential election to be held following the departure of Mr Ben Ali. "We need to hold credible elections," he says.

1405 Newspapers in Morocco say the events in Tunisia will have regional repercussions. "What happened in Tunisia will weigh on the Maghreb and the Arab world," says al-Alam. "Those in charge of this region are called to learn lessons from it. The people no longer need to be managed and controlled. The events in Tunisia have shown that people on the street know how to impose the option that suits them."

1353 The US has joined the EU in saying it is ready to help Tunisia to hold free and fair elections. President Barack Obama's counter-terrorism adviser, John Brennan, who is visiting Tunisia's neighbour Algeria, said: "We applaud the courage and dignity of the Tunisian people, and we urge all parties to maintain calm and avoid violence."

1350 An adviser to Mr Ben Ali has been telling Le Monde newspaper about the last few days before the president fled. "There was a ruinous atmosphere at the palace," he says. The unnamed adviser says Mr Ben Ali had responded to the news of the self-immolation by saying: "May he die." He also says the head of presidential security, Ali Seriati, had warned that the military were becoming friendly with members of the public and had told advisers: "We may leave, but we will burn Tunis first."

1342 UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has called for the rule of law to be restored in Tunisia, saying he is concerned about the loss of life, Reuters reports.

1338 A leading Eygptian pop star, Tamer Hosny, has released a song on his website in support of the Tunisian demonstrations: "Your martyrs green Tunisia, not one of them has died. He who dies for his dignity, his honour, for him this is a birthday."

1334 The British Foreign Office is advising all Britons who do not have a "pressing need" to stay in Tunisia to leave as soon as possible. It says people should remain indoors, stay away from demonstrations, exercise caution, and observe instructions given by local security authorities and tour operators.

Wyre Davies
1330 The BBC's Wyre Davies in Tunis say the pro-democracy campaign definitely has the upper hand. "In the streets of Tunis, there were a lot of people out who have been using social networking sites to try to convince people that things are moving forward, getting back to normal. A lot of the shops aren't open and the economy isn't really working because there is a state of emergency."

1326 Dr Hakim Darbouche, a North Africa analyst at Oxford University, told the BBC World Service the next government can only be a transitional one, but it is uncertain how long it would last. "The people we are seeing on the streets of Tunis are people who know the tricks of the regime of Ben Ali inside out. They've been at the receiving end of them for 23 years. So there's nothing that the new transition government will have up its sleeve that will go unnoticed."

1319 The al-Arabiya TV channel is reporting gunfire in the Lafayette district of central Tunis.

1312 The BBC's China editor, Shirong Chen, says the unrest is being watched very closely there. Hundreds of thousands of people have been commenting on internet forums, praising the Tunisian public and drawing parallels between Mohamed Bouazizi's suicide protest and the frustrations felt by many in China. "Great! In such a country people are the real masters," one web user wrote.

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1309 The BBC's Adam Mynott in Tunis tweets: "Filming in supermarket in Tunis trashed on Friday. Mayonnaise everywhere. Amazing spirit of staff to get back to work."

1305 Egyptian blogger Hossam el-Hamalawy told the BBC World Service he did not think the incident in Cairo would spark unrest, but he thinks the likelihood of protests is growing: "Over the past four years the number of strikes and social unrest has been escalating and everybody is expecting an uprising. What exactly will be the trigger nobody knows. But we all feel it in the air."

1301 After the self-immolation in Cairo earlier on Monday, reports are emerging of a similar incident in Mauritania. AFP reports the man had called journalists to say he was "unhappy with the political situation in the country and angry with the government".

1259 The BBC's Arab affairs analyst Magdi Abdelhadi says how the interim leaders respond to these protests will give an indication of whether they are serious about making genuine political reforms, or whether the old political class is determined to hold on to power.

tweet
1257 From Tunisia, Houeida Anouar tweets: "We are in great need of a national reconciliation process in Tunisia to overcome destructive and vindictive anger."

Wyre Davies
1247The BBC's Wyre Davies in Tunis says: "Everyone is nervously awaiting the next crucial political development, specifically the anticipated announcement of the formation of a government of national unity, beginning the transformation of Tunisia from an authoritarian to a more democractic state."

1243Tunisia's central bank has denied reports in the French media that Mr Ben Ali's wife took 1.5 tonnes of gold with her when she fled the country. A bank official told the AFP news agency: "The gold reserves of the central bank of Tunisia have not been touched in recent days. Neither have the cash reserves. The country has very strict regulations."

1237 In a sign of how tense things are in the capital, a group of Swedish citizens on a hunting trip in Tunisia were beaten up on Sunday night. They were travelling in taxis in the capital when they were stopped at a checkpoint and, when their guns were found, accused of being foreign mercenaries. Ove Oberg, one of the group, told reporters they had been treated "like foreign terrorists".

1231 Mourad Teyeb is a journalist working for Al Sabbah, a newspaper owned by the ousted president's billionnaire son-in-law. He told the BBC many politicians seem reluctant to talk about what the future role of the ruling RCD party will be. "But the Tunisian people insist that the first political steps to be taken should be measures against this ruling people - very unpopular, very, very corrupt," he said.

Wyre Davies
1226 The BBC's Wyre Davies says the intense security has made it hard to film on the streets of Tunis. He says the army does not appear to be interfering in the process of political reform, but that the motives of some of the police and security services who are still loyal to Mr Ben Ali may be more sinister.

1219 Francis, a Tunis resident, told the BBC he was unable to leave his home for several days because of a curfew in the capital and is running out of basic supplies. He says vigilante gangs have been formed to protect his street. "Each evening they barricade the street and we're told to put our shutters down."

Jon Leyne
1213 The BBC's Jon Leyne in Cairo says the man was shouting slogans about the government and unemployment. "With the close similarity to the incident that began the demonstrations in Tunisia a month ago, the Egyptian government is bound to be nervous," says our correspondent.

1208 These protests began back in December, when a young Tunisian man set himself on fire after his illegal market stall was shut down by police. On Monday morning, a man set himself on fire in Egypt, with many people asking whether it was an attempt to copy the Tunisian example.

1205 Sondos, a woman who lives in Tunis, told the BBC World Service she believes the security services are trying to stir up trouble. She said Tunisia had been going through some hard times, "but it will be better, I am sure it will be better".

1159 Mona Eltahawy writes in the Guardian newspaper: "If every Arab leader has watched Tunisia in fear, then every Arab citizen has watched in hope". The BBC has compiled a summary of other analysts' views on the situation and what could happen next.

Lyse Doucet
1148 The BBC's Lyse Doucet in Tunis says the people who are celebrating Mr Ben Ali's departure are now concerned his old regime could still cling on to power. They are making it clear they will not accept a new government which contains the same faces, she says.
Follow Lyse Doucet's tweets from Tunis on Twitter

1140 Many people in Tunisia are keen for their country to move away from protests and towards a new, stable leadership. One Tunis resident told the Associated Press news agency: "We must return to work to rebuild our new country. We must do, to show the world that here in Tunisia democracy will be created now."

1131 A Reuters reporter says security forces are now using tear gas in a new attempt to disperse protesters in Tunis.

1127 The EU is ready to offer "immediate" help to Tunisia to enable it to hold elections soon, says foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton.

1120 Troops with tanks have been patrolling Tunis overnight to try to restore order - there have been reports of looting and of supporters of Mr Ben Ali exchanging gunfire with soldiers.

1114The BBC's Lyse Doucet in Tunis says she has heard gunfire in the capital, but there have also been moments of celebration, with crowds singing the Tunisian national anthem and songs about the future of the country.

1112 Reuters says the crowds were chanting "Out with the RCD!" and "Out with the party of the dictatorship!"

1110 New violence has been seen on the streets of Tunis, following the weeks of unrest. Police have used water canon to disperse several hundred people demonstrating against the RCD, the party of ousted President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali.




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