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Protests force out Tunisian prime minister

Tunisia's interim president, Fouad Mebazaa, chose a former government minister as a new prime minister Sunday, appealing for a return to calm following new violent protests that have been hobbling the North African country since the ouster of its longtime autocratic leader.

Beji Caid-Essebsi will replace Mohammed Ghannouchi, who resigned earlier Sunday after becoming a major irritant to Tunisians behind the so-called Jasmine Revolution that toppled autocratic President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali last month and sparked a wave of upheaval in the Arab world.

As Ben Ali's prime minister for 11 years, Ghannouchi became the emblem of an entrenched old guard that many Tunisians feared were hijacking their revolution.

It was not immediately clear how much the shakeup would mollify the protesters, at a time when its leaders are attempting to rebuild its tourism industry and cope with an influx of Tunisians and others fleeing from violence in neighboring Libya.

The change in the government's leadership follows renewed street protests. Officials said at least five people have died in violent street protests since Friday.

Bahrain

Thousands streamed through Bahrain's diplomatic area and other sites on Sunday, chanting against the king and rejecting his appeals for talks to end the tiny gulf nation's nearly 2-week-old crisis. At least three processions paralyzed parts of the capital, Manama, and appeared to reflect a growing defiance of calls by Bahrain's rulers to hold talks to ease the increasingly bitter showdown in the strategic island nation, home to the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet.

Egypt

Villagers in the southern Assiut province blocked a highway with burning tires and set fire to three government buildings Sunday to protest official corruption. Hundreds of civil servants went on strike to demand better living conditions, saying senior officials are distributing social benefits unfairly.

Iraq

After a string of deadly anti-government protests, the prime minister on Sunday gave his ministers 100 days to improve their performance or risk being fired. The warning from Nouri al-Maliki came two days after thousands took to the streets across the country to demand better public services.

Oman

Security forces fired tear gas and rubber bullets at protesters demanding political reforms, killing two. The clashes on Sunday marked a significant escalation in two days of protests.

Yemen

Opposition parties joined young protesters on Sunday in their push to bring down the country's beleaguered president. The action marked the second major setback in two days for President Ali Abdullah Saleh, a key U.S. ally in the fight against the al-Qaida terror network. Two powerful chiefs from his own tribe have abandoned him, and hundreds of thousands are calling for his ouster in large demonstrations.

Saudi Arabia

More than 100 leading Saudi academics and activists urged King Abdullah to enact sweeping reforms, including setting up a constitutional monarchy. He ordered Sunday that government sector workers with temporary contracts be given permanent jobs in order to pre-empt the unrest that has engulfed other Arab nations.

Protests force out Tunisian prime minister 02/27/11 [Last modified: Sunday, February 27, 2011 10:35pm]

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