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Hundreds protest in Tunis against former regime

world Updated: Jan 17, 2011 19:06 IST

Hundreds of people rallied in central Tunis on Monday to demand the abolition of ousted president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali's ruling RDC party, as police fired volleys of tear gas to break up the protest.

"We don't want anyone from the old party in the new government. That includes the prime minister," one protester told AFP on condition of anonymity.

Prime Minister Mohammed Ghannouchi was a close ally of Ben Ali and held talks with opposition parties on Sunday to form a national unity government that is due to be unveiled on Monday. The opposition said members of the previous government are set to stay on.

Any public gatherings are banned under a state of emergency declared by Ben Ali on Friday just before he resigned and fled to Saudi Arabia.

Riot police fired tear gas and water cannons in an attempt to disperse the rally and prevent protesters from marching on the headquarters of the RDC, the Constitutional Democratic Rally. "With our blood and our soul we are ready to sacrifice ourselves for the martyrs," they chanted, referring to the dozens reported killed in a wave of protests that led to Ben Ali's downfall after 23 years in power.

There was another rally in Sidi Bouzid, a city in central Tunisia that was at the heart of the protests that erupted against Ben Ali's regime mid December last year.

Demonstrators there chanted, "Bread and water and no RDC!" A rally was also held in Regueb, a town near Sidi Bouzid.