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Tunisian Police Use Tear Gas To Disperse Protesters


Security forces use water canons to disperse protesters in downtown Tunis on January 17.
Tunisian police used tear gas to disperse a small protest rally against the country's new government today.

Correspondents say some 100 protesters rallied in the center of the capital, Tunis, to protest the inclusion of members of the ousted president's administration into the new national unity government.

President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali fled Tunisia last week following a wave of unprecedented street protests. He had ruled the country for 23 years.

But Ben Ali's party retained the key foreign, interior, defense, and finance ministries in the new government, which also included several opposition leaders and representatives of civil society.

Tunisia's largest trade union said today its three ministers will withdraw from the unity government.

A union official, Abid al-Briki, told state television the decision was taken because members of ousted administration had retained their jobs in the new government.

Prime Minister Mohammed Ghannouchi today said that officials who ordered the violent crackdown on the protests will face justice, but insisted that ministers from Ben Ali's administration who kept their jobs have "clean hands."

compiled from agency reports