Tunisian President Ben Ali's departure over massive protests- a "lesson" for Arab leaders

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Beirut, Jan 15 (ANI): Tunisian President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali's act of fleeing the country amidst massive protests is seen by political observers, including media persons, as a historic day in Arab politics and triumph of the common people who have shown that such an extensive outrage can force a powerful leader out of power.

The News York Times quoted a Lebanese broadcaster, Abeer Madi al-Halabi, as saying that this historic moment in Tunisia is a lesson for countries where "Presidents and kings have rusted on their thrones."

The protests in the country began several weeks ago following the death of Mohamed Bouazizi, a 26-year-old who worked as a fruit and vegetable vendor despite being a university graduate. He set himself on fire in a city square in December when the police seized his cart and mistreated him, the paper said.

A Facebook page hailed him as "the symbol of the Tunisian revolution," adding: "God have mercy on you, Tunisia's martyr, and on the all free martyrs of Tunisia. One candle burns to create light and one candle beats all oppression," it added.

According to the Times, protestors also gathered at the Tunisian Embassy in Zamalek, Egypt chanting slogans against Ben Ali, Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi of Libya, and Hosni Mubarak of Egypt, and warning each that their day of reckoning was coming close.

"Down, down with Hosni Mubarak!" some chanted.

"Ben Ali, you fraud! Mubarak, you fraud! Qaddafi, you fraud!" others shouted.

Rami Khouri, director of the Issam Fares Institute at the American University of Beirut, said that there are very few events that capture "the spirit of time," adding that Tunisia has best captured it in the Arab world, it said.

After Ben Ali fled the country after being in office for over 23 years, Prime Minister Mohamed Ghannouchi announced he was taking over as interim President, and promised that fresh elections would be held within six months. (ANI)

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