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Tunisian unity government feels force of protests

Protesters cheer a soldier during a demonstration against former Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in Tunis on Monday. A new government includes opposition leaders.

Associated Press

Protesters cheer a soldier during a demonstration against former Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in Tunis on Monday. A new government includes opposition leaders.

TUNIS, Tunisia — Passions unleashed by the revolution in Tunisia resonated throughout the region on Monday as an Egyptian and a Mauritanian became the latest of six North Africans to set themselves on fire in an imitation of the self-immolation that triggered the uprising in Tunis a month ago.

In Egypt, Abdo Abdel Moneim, a 50-year-old restaurant owner, set himself ablaze in Cairo. Around the same time in Mauritania, Yacoub Ould Dahoud set fire to himself in his parked car near Parliament in Nouakchott.

And on Sunday, Senouci Touat, 34, of Mostaganem, Algeria, set himself on fire in his hometown, the fourth attempted self-immolation in his country since the Tunisian street revolt exploded in furious demonstrations in recent days. And while there were no immediate signs that their actions inspired widespread protests, the immolations stood as testimony to the power of the Tunisian example.

In Tunis, the fight wasn't over. More than a thousand protesters swarmed again onto the main artery, Bourguiba Boulevard, in what they described as an effort to sustain their revolution.

The protesters raged against the domination of the new Cabinet by members of the party of former President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, who fled the country Friday. "Citizens and martyrs, the government is still the same," they chanted. "We will protest, we will protest, until the government collapses!"

But it was not clear exactly who spoke for the street protesters, and the old guard of the opposition struggled to convince the people in the streets that the country was moving toward democracy.

In the new unity government, the prime minister, Mohamed Ghannouchi, and the ministers of interior, foreign affairs, defense and finance were all members of the ruling party. Three ministers are from the opposition.

Ghannouchi declared the end of Tunisia's propaganda and censorship machine. He also pledged to release all political prisoners and to recognize the banned Communist and Islamic parties, as well as hold free, internationally monitored elections within six months.

The interior minister said the death toll in the month of protests included 78 demonstrators.

Tunisian unity government feels force of protests 01/18/11 [Last modified: Monday, November 7, 2011 1:56pm]

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