Political chaos: Tunisia tries to form coalition

Speaker sworn in as interim president, shooting and looting in parts of Tunis.


Reuters January 15, 2011

TUNIS:


Gunmen fired at random from cars in Tunis on Saturday and inmates staged a mass jailbreak while leaders tried to map out Tunisia’s political future after the president was swept from power.

The speaker of parliament, Fouad Mebazza, was sworn in as interim president. He asked Prime Minister Mohamed Ghannouchi to form a coalition government and the constitutional authorities said a presidential election should be held within 60 days.

It was not clear who the miscreants were but a senior military source said people affiliated to former President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali were behind the shootings.

Soldiers and tanks were stationed in the centre of Tunis to try to restore order. As night fell, suburban neighbourhoods were guarded from looters by impromptu militias, made up of residents armed knives, who allowed only locals to pass.

Meanwhile, dozens of inmates were killed when they broke out of Mahdia prison and the prison at Monastir, also south of the capital, was on fire after a separate escape attempt, witnesses said.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 16th,  2011.

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