Tunisian PM announces new government

January 18, 2011 11:30 am 

TUNIS, Jan. 18 — Tunisian Prime Minister Mohammed Ghannouchi on Monday announced the formation of a national unity government after former president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali was ousted last week.

Ghannouchi said the new government is composed of 21 ministers, including six former ministers, members of the opposition and independents.

Two leading opposition figures, the founder of the Progressive Democratic Party (PDP) Nejib Chebbi and Mustapha Ben Jaafar, who is from the Democratic Forum for Work and Liberties, would hold cabinet posts, said the prime minister.

Six former top ministers, including interior, defense and foreign ministers, retained their posts in the new government, said Ghannouchi, adding the communication ministry would not exist and will be replaced by a specialized commission.

Ghannouchi also announced that the restrictions on the Tunisian League of Human Rights and on the Tunisian Association of Magistrates would be lifted.

All political parties and nongovernmental associations will also be recognized and will be able to operate in all freedom, he added.

Ghannouchi also announced the establishment of three commissions that are in charge of political reforms, monitoring unlawful acts and fighting against corruption, adding that all political prisoners will be freed.

"We will work towards fair and transparent elections monitored by international observers," said Ghannouchi, who also confirmed that the government will allow freedom of speech.

Former president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, who ruled the north African country for 23 years, fled to Saudi Arabia, as the riots developed into a political crisis and raised serious concern from both the Arab world and the international community.

The turmoil in the country, known as "peaceful oasis" in north Africa, was triggered by the death of a university graduate in central Tunisia, who burned himself after the police confiscated his unlicensed fruit cart. (PNA/Xinhua)

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