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Tunisian ministers quit RCD party
London, Jan 20 (Agencies):
Published on 20 Jan. 2011 10:40 PM IST
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All ministers in Tunisia’s transitional government who were members of the ousted president’s RCD party have quit the party, state television reported.
However, the ministers are to keep their seats in the country’s unity cabinet, the report added.
Earlier, it was announced that more than 30 members of ex-President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali’s family had been arrested.
The statement said those held were suspected of crimes against Tunisia.
Mr Ben Ali fled to Saudi Arabia last week after violent mass protests over unemployment, poverty and corruption.
Despite his departure, protests have continued with demonstrators demanding that all members of the RCD party be removed from office.
Correspondents say the latest move may go some way to restoring credibility in the cabinet but it is unclear if protesters will accept it.
Four opposition ministers quit the interim cabinet the day after it was formed, demanding the exclusion of RCD ministers.
Prime Minister Mohammed Ghannouchi and interim President Fouad Mebazaa - former speaker of the lower house of parliament - have also quit the RCD party to try to distance themselves from Mr Ben Ali.
The unity cabinet’s inaugural meeting was due to take place on Thursday, having been delayed by political wrangling.
It was not clear on Thursday which members of Mr Ben Ali’s family had been arrested.
However, state television showed what it said was gold and jewellery seized during raids on their properties.
Tunisia unity cabinet: Your views Return of Tunisia’s opposition Tunisia’s credit rating downgraded Swiss officials estimate Tunisian government officials have put about $620m (£387m) into Swiss banks, the Associated Press news agency reports.
On Wednesday, Switzerland said it had frozen any assets of Mr Ben Ali and “his entourage” held in the country.
In a televised address on Wednesday, Mr Mebazaa promised to deliver a complete break from the past.
He hailed “a revolution of dignity and liberty”, saying that the government’s top priority would be an amnesty for political prisoners. He also promised media freedom and an independent judiciary.
“Together we can write a new page in the history of our country,” he said.
Although the situation remains tense, authorities have shortened the hours of curfew.
A state of emergency is still in place, banning public assemblies and the army is still deployed in the capital Tunis. Schools and universities remain closed.
The interim government has pledged free and fair elections within six months but has given no dates.
Under the Tunisian constitution, a new presidential election should be held within two months of Mr Ben Ali’s departure.
The US has urged Tunisia to move to a true democracy, and promised assistance.
State department spokesman PJ Crowley tweeted: “The people of Tunisia have spoken. The interim government must create a genuine transition to democracy. The United States will help.”

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