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Tunisia prime minister declares new government

Monday, January 17, 2011 | 10:18 a.m. CST; updated 10:31 a.m. CST, Monday, January 17, 2011
Protesters cheers a soldier Monday during a demonstration against former Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in the center of Tunis. Tunisia's interim leaders plan to announce a new government Monday that includes opposition leaders for the first time — a move they hope will stabilize their violence-wracked nation.

TUNIS, Tunisia — Tunisia's prime minister announced a national unity government on Monday, hoping to quell simmering unrest following the ouster of President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali amid huge street protests.

Prime Minister Mohamed Ghannouchi, a longtime ally of Ben Ali, and several top ministers retained their posts in the shake-up — and at least one top opposition leader was expected to join the government.

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The moved comes amid continued unrest in the North African country after Ben Ali fled the North African country on Friday — 23 years after he first took power.

Ghannouchi, who has been premier since 1999 and has kept his post throughout the upheaval, said the current ministers of defense, interior and foreign affairs would keep their posts.

Three opposition figures, including Nejib Chebbi, a founder of the opposition PDP party, will take up posts in the government — a breakthrough in a country that the autocratic Ben Ali led for more than two decades.

Many opponents of Ben Ali's rule have taken to the streets to express their hopes that the new government would not include of any remnants of his iron-fisted regime.

Earlier Monday, security forces fired tear gas to repel angry demonstrators ahead of the announcement of the new government. Some protesters demaned Ben Ali's former cronies be locked out.


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