Tens of thousands rally against Tunisian government

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Tunis, Feb 25 (AFP) Tens of thousands of Tunisianstoday rallied to demand the resignation of Prime MinisterMohamed Ghannouchi''s transitional government set up after lastmonth''s ouster of Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.

Demonstrators chanted "Ghannouchi leave" and "Shame onthis government" as army helicopters circled above the crowdmassed in the Kasbah government quarter, where policeestimated that the number of people topped 100,000.

It was the biggest of several rallies against thetransitional authority since the fall of long-time ruler BenAli on January 14 after weeks of demonstrations, protestersand Red Crescent workers estimated.

Tunisians "are living in a political vacuum," a lawstudent who gave his name only as Ramzi told AFP. "We demandthe firing of the whole government and of Ghannouchi," hesaid.

Ghannouchi''s caretaker government, tasked with leadingTunisia to elections due in about five months, has facedregular protests demanding it root out vestiges of the oldregime.

These include Ghannouchi, who was prime minister underBen Ali for over a decade since 1999, and several ministers.

Ghannouchi left his offices in the Kasbah complex lateJanuary after the first protests against him there.

Today''s rally was swelling, an AFP reporter said, anda Red Crescent worker said more than 30 people had faintedbecause of the huge number of people, who included youthsdraped in the Tunisian flag.

The fall of Ben Ali after 23 years in power sparkedsimilar uprisings in the Arab world, including one that led tothe downfall of long-time Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak onFebruary 11 and another under way in Libya. (AFP)

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