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    France refuses to give asylum to Tunisian president - media

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    French President Nicolas Sarkozy has refused to give asylum to Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, who fled his country amid protests that turned violent on Friday, French media reported.

    French President Nicolas Sarkozy has refused to give asylum to Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, who fled his country amid protests that turned violent on Friday, French media reported.

    Earlier reports suggested that the Tunisian president is expected to arrive in France.

    The French Foreign Ministry reported that there was no official request from the Tunisian authorities to host the president and the diplomatic body had to hold consultations with the Tunisian constitutional authorities before making such decisions, iTele TV channel reported.

    Tunisian Prime Minister Mohamed Ghannouchi took over as Tunisia's interim leader on Friday, saying the president was incapable of fulfilling his duties. The country's armed forces entered the capital Tunis and took up key positions around the city, including the presidential palace, ministries and the international airport.

    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 tried to commit suicide by setting fire to himself after the authorities banned him from selling vegetables in the street without permission.

    Riots continued on Friday even after the president dismissed the government and announced early elections. Protestors demanded 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.

     

    PARIS, January 15 (RIA Novosti)

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