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Many Tunisians pleased at interim gov't shakeup

 Students demonstrate in Tunis, Thursday Jan. 27, 2011. A government official says Tunisia's prime minister is expected to announce the country's seco...
 Students demonstrate in Tunis, Thursday Jan. 27, 2011. A government official says Tunisia's prime minister is expected to announce the country's seco...
 FILE - This is a Tuesday Jan. 25, 2011 file photo of Tunisian Foreign Minister Kamel Morjane  in Tunis. Tunisia's official news agency Thursday Jan. ...
 FILE - This is a Tuesday Jan. 25, 2011 file photo of Tunisian Foreign Minister Kamel Morjane  in Tunis. Tunisia's official news agency Thursday Jan. ...
 In this picture taken Thursday, Jan. 27, 2011, Tunisian protestors, staging an overnight protest, demonstrate in front of the prime minister office i...
 In this picture taken Thursday, Jan. 27, 2011, a Tunisian protester starting a hunger strike, Mohamed Rached Ghodhbani, 29, is pictured with his lips...
 A demonstrator holds a banner during a demonstration in a show of solidarity with protestors in Egypt and Tunisia at Damascus Gate, outside Jerusalem...
 Demonstrators hold Egyptian, left, and Tunisian flags, right, during a show of solidarity with protestors in Egypt and Tunisia at Damascus Gate, outs...

Tunisia

Students demonstrate in Tunis, Thursday Jan. 27, 2011. A government official says Tunisia's prime minister is expected to announce the country's seco...

Tunisia

Students demonstrate in Tunis, Thursday Jan. 27, 2011. A government official says Tunisia's prime minister is expected to announce the country's seco...

Tunisia

FILE - This is a Tuesday Jan. 25, 2011 file photo of Tunisian Foreign Minister Kamel Morjane in Tunis. Tunisia's official news agency Thursday Jan. ...

Tunisia

FILE - This is a Tuesday Jan. 25, 2011 file photo of Tunisian Foreign Minister Kamel Morjane in Tunis. Tunisia's official news agency Thursday Jan. ...

Tunisie

In this picture taken Thursday, Jan. 27, 2011, Tunisian protestors, staging an overnight protest, demonstrate in front of the prime minister office i...

Tunisie

In this picture taken Thursday, Jan. 27, 2011, a Tunisian protester starting a hunger strike, Mohamed Rached Ghodhbani, 29, is pictured with his lips...

Mideast Israel Palestinians Egypt Tunisia

A demonstrator holds a banner during a demonstration in a show of solidarity with protestors in Egypt and Tunisia at Damascus Gate, outside Jerusalem...

Mideast Israel Palestinians Egypt Tunisia

Demonstrators hold Egyptian, left, and Tunisian flags, right, during a show of solidarity with protestors in Egypt and Tunisia at Damascus Gate, outs...

Many Tunisians on Friday welcomed the new interim government that dropped most ministers from the former ruling party, a sign that its concessions to protesters may calm down the daily demonstrations that have disrupted life for weeks.
But holdouts remained in this North African nation, which was celebrating a full two weeks free of the iron-fisted rule of its longtime strongman. About 1,000 people took up posts in front of Prime Minister Mohamed Ghannouchi's office in the capital of Tunis on Friday, facing off against police, and a tent city housed protesters from outside the capital.
"Finally the Deliverance" ran a hopeful front page headline in the French-language daily Le Quotidien, while rival daily Le Temps asked "Appeasement?"
Street protesters have demanded the removal of ministers tied to ousted President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, who fled to Saudi Arabia on Jan. 14 after 23 years in power.
Ghannouchi's appointment on Thursday of independents to three key posts in the country's new interim Cabinet, removing ministers from the former ruling party, was a major concession to the demonstrators.
"I think the pressure that was put on the government has borne its fruit, meaning that we have obtained good concessions," said Kamel Ben Hamida, a resident of Tunis. "It would be more reasonable to stop asking for the government to fall."
But other citizens are angry that Ghannouchi, a longtime crony of Ben Ali, is staying on in the new Cabinet despite calls for his ouster.
"We don't agree with that decision. This is against the will of the people. We want the resignation of the entire government including Prime Minister Mohamed Ghannouchi," said Mohamed Boukhres, a demonstrator camped outside prime minister's office.
The new interim Cabinet, Tunisia's second in 10 days, is a caretaker government intended to prepare for elections in six to seven months. Ghannouchi said the elections will be organized by an independent national commission and overseen by international observers to ensure the vote is "honest and transparent." He did not offer a date for the ballot.
The new Cabinet includes 12 new ministers and nine holdovers from the prior interim government that had been named on Jan. 17, in addition to Ghannouchi.
The newcomers include Interior Minister Farhat Rajhi, Defense Minister Abdelkrim Zbidi, and Foreign Affairs Minister Ahmed Ounaies. Only three ministers in the government named Thursday have roots in Ben Ali's RCD party, compared to 10 in the previous interim Cabinet.
Speaking on national TV, Ghannouchi said the new Cabinet should begin work on political reforms sought by some opposition parties, including new laws on elections, anti-terrorist legislation and press freedom.
"(We will) undertake economic and social reforms to spur a rebound in all sectors and improve living conditions for Tunisians in all parts of the country," he said.
Many protesters had been angry over the lack of jobs, corruption and repression under Ben Ali.
Ghannouchi urged Tunisians to "demonstrate civilized behavior ... (so) the revolution can be a success."
The powerful UGTT union announced it would refuse to join the interim Cabinet, saying it preferred to remain in opposition.
___
Jeff Schaeffer in Tunis contributed to the report.


Updated : 2021-05-15 16:22 GMT+08:00