Hundreds broke through a half-hearted police cordon at the office of Prime Minister Mohamed Ghannouchi: “No place for men of tyranny in a national unity government,” read one banner.
Ghannouchi, who stayed on to head a would-be unity coalition when strongman Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali fled a week ago, made an emotional late-night plea for patience on television on Friday. He portrayed himself as a fellow victim and pledged to end his political career as soon as he could organise elections.
But as he held meetings with cabinet colleagues yesterday, thousands of people on the streets of Tunis and other towns demonstrated their rejection of what many call his token attempt to co-opt a handful of little-known dissidents into government.
One demonstrator outside the premier’s office said: “We want to tell Mr Ghannouchi the definition of ‘revolution’ — it means a radical change, not keeping on the same prime minister.”
Even policemen, once the feared blunt instrument of Ben Ali’s 24-year rule, were declaring changed loyalties — in Tunis thousands joined in chant of “We are innocent of the blood of the martyrs!” at a rally to show their support for the “Jasmine Revolution”, in which police bullets and batons killed dozens.
It was police harassment of a young vegetable seller last month that prompted him to burn himself to death in protest at unemployment and corrupt rule, triggering the wave of unrest. —Reuters