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TUNISIA: Prime minister resigns after three die in clashes with security forces

February 27, 2011 |  8:32 am

Ghannouchi The prime minister of Tunisia, Mohamed Ghannouchi, said he was stepping down Sunday, a day after security forces clashed with protesters in the capital of Tunis, killing three people.

"I am resigning today because I am not willing to be a person that takes decisions that could cause casualties," he said on state television.

Protesters complained that Ghannouchi, a holdover from the deposed government, was too close politically to former Tunisian President Zine el Abidine ben Ali, who resigned in January after sustained protests against the government. Those protests set off larger demonstrations across the Middle East, toppling other governments, including that of Ben Ali. They began when a food cart vendor set himself on fire to protest high food prices and poor economic conditions.

The February protests in Tunisia called for the current parliament to be disbanded, and for an organized transition to democracy. Nine people were injured in addition to the three deaths Saturday when the protesters clashed with security forces.

-- Alana Semuels

Photo: Tunisian Prime Minister Mohamed Ghannouchi. Credit: European Pressphoto Agency