President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali of Tunisia today fled the country after demonstrators flooded the streets of Tunisian cities and town. Last night, President Ben Ali addressed the nation over television and agreed to make concessions to demonstrators who have been demonstrating against Tunisia’s rampant poverty, unemployment, and autocratic regime that has favored wealthy elites over the people.
Today, thousands marched in Tunis, the nation’s capital, Friday after the Tunisian General Labor Union called for a general strike. Lawyers and nurses joined union members and ordinary citizens in filling the streets and shouting, “We will carry on until the regime falls.” The crowd gathered at the Interior Ministry, shouting “Ben Ali go.”
Demonstrations erupted in other towns and cities. In Sidi Bouzid where the protests began in December after Mohamed Bouazizi burned himself to death in front of a government building after the authorities closed his fruit and vegetable stand. Bouazizi was an unemployed college graduate unable to find work. Demonstrations were also reported in Regueb, Kairouan, and the mining region of Gafsa.
Before fleeing the country, President Ben Ali disbanded his government and called for new elections in six months. He left the Prime Minister Mohamed Ghannouchi in charge after his departure.