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Tunisian president flees country, PM takes control

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The prime minister has taken control of power in Tunisia after President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali fled the country on Friday afternoon, Al Jazeera reported.

The prime minister has taken control of power in Tunisia after President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali fled the country on Friday afternoon, Al Jazeera reported.

The Tunisian army entered the capital Tunis and took up key positions around the city, including the presidential palace, ministries and the international airport earlier on Friday.

Tunisia plunged into chaos in mid-December, when thousands of people took to the streets to protest the state's economic policies. The violence was sparked when a peddler committed suicide by setting fire to himself after the authorities banned him from selling vegetables in the street without permission.

Riots continued even after the president sacked the government and announced early elections. Protestors demand the immediate resignation of the president, who has been in power since 1987.

Ben Ali was forced to impose a nationwide state of emergency and curfew when the crowd attacked police stations, the ruling party's offices and the houses of top-ranking officials. There were also reports of looting and shootouts in downtown Tunis.

 

CAIRO, January 14 (RIA Novosti)

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