Hundreds rally in Tunisia against Ben Ali’s party

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TUNIS – Hundreds of people rallied in central Tunis on Monday to demand the abolition of ousted president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali’s RCD party as police fired volleys of tear gas to break up the protest.
Demonstrators in two towns in the central west also demanded the end of the Constitutional Democratic Rally (RCD), members of which are expected to feature in the transitional government due to be unveiled Monday.
“The revolution continues! RCD out!” shouted several hundred demonstrators in two protests in the capital, one outside the municipal theatre and the other in front of the French embassy. “We don’t want anyone from the old party in the new government. That includes the prime minister,” one told AFP on condition of anonymity.
Prime Minister Mohammed Ghannouchi was a close ally of Ben Ali and held talks with opposition parties on Sunday to form a national unity government. The opposition said members of the previous government are set to stay on. “With our blood and our soul we are ready to sacrifice ourselves for the martyrs,” the demonstrators chanted, referring to the dozens reported killed in a wave of protests that led to Ben Ali’s downfall after 23 years in power. Riot police fired tear gas and water cannons to disperse the rally and prevent protesters from marching on the headquarters of the RCD. The security forces said they were also trying to avoid using violence.
“We have been told about the presence of provocateurs and extremists. We are trying to intervene without violence. We are busy talking, trying to persuade them to disperse,” said an officer told AFP. In the central city of Sidi Bouzid, where the protests against Ben Ali’s regime erupted mid-December, demonstrators chanted: “Bread and water and no RCD!” Similar slogans were chanted at another protest in nearby Regueb. Any public gatherings are banned under a state of emergency declared by Ben Ali on Friday just before he resigned and fled to Saudi Arabia.