Tunisia orders former ruling party to halt all activities

Los Angeles TimesFebruary 7, 2011 

Tunisia's new interior minister on Sunday ordered the party of ousted President Zine el Abidine Ben Ali to close its offices and suspend all activities pending its dissolution in the purge of all vestiges of the former regime, state television reported.

Interior Minister Farhat Rajhi, a former criminal court judge, has been a particularly zealous advocate of forcing former regime loyalists from power and has already purged his own ministry of top officials. He blamed members of the Constitutional Democratic Rally, the former ruling party, for a new outbreak of violence in the provinces in which two people were killed in recent days.

After Ben Ali was deposed and driven into exile on Jan. 14, activists continued to hit the streets, setting up a tent camp outside the prime minister's office to pressure him to remove former regime figures from the interim government. Many holdover officials were fired Jan. 27.

The ongoing purge has implications for Egyptian protesters, who were inspired by the Tunisian revolt and are closely watching the North African Arab state as a possible roadmap guide for their nation's transition from one-man and one-party rule to some sort of democracy.

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