Four ministers of the day-old new national unity government have quit, as the streets of Tunis again witness a fresh round of protests.
Three of them -- Anouar Ben Gueddour, Abdeljelil Bedoui and Houssine Dimassi -- were officials of the General Union of Tunisian Workers (UGTT), a labor organization that played a significant role in the demonstrations that forced out the former President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.
Another opposition politician, health minister Mustapha Ben Jaafar, has also quit, according to Associated Press
Reportedly, the dissenters are upset that Prime Minister Mohammed Ghannouchi has retained some ministers from the former ruling Constitutional Democratic Rally (RCD) party in their government posts.
The ministers who quit were all opponents of Ben Ali.
Another media report stated that the UGTT will not recognize the new government.
Meanwhile, riot police are battling protesters who carry placards reading “RCD must go!”
In order to placate the demonstrators, Ghannouchi has expressed his desire to free political prisoners, ease restrictions on opposition parties, unions and the media, and to hold free and fair elections within six months, but many Tunisians remain skeptical.
Tunisia is now entering an era of liberty, Ghannouchi told a French radio station. Give us a chance so that we can put in place this ambitious program of reform.
He reiterated that ministers retained from the former regime have clean hands, in addition to great competence.”
At least 78 people have died in civil disturbances that led to the ouster of Ben Ali, who had since departed for Saudi Arabia.