Africa

Tunisians react as president steps down

Tunisia's president has stepped down after 23 years in power amid unprecedented protests on the streets of the capital Tunis.

A state of emergency has been declared in Tunisia amid protests over corruption, unemployment and inflation.

On Friday, BBC News website readers in Tunisia spoke about the situation.

Richard Field, Tunis

Image caption Multiple locations in Tunisia, including the capital, Tunis, and La Marsa (pictured) have been affected

Everyone wants President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali to go now - news that he has stepped down is not a surprise.

I've lived in Tunis for the last four-and-a-half years as a teacher. Tunisia has always been a very safe and relaxed country, but I think this situation was bound to happen. The Tunisians are resentful and the government does nothing to help them.

I decided to go out this afternoon to see whether any shops were open and it was completely chaotic. I was shocked to find that everything had been broken. It was impossible to drive anywhere because of the rubbish, teargas canisters and things smouldering on the street.

There were also a number of large gangs setting fire to things. I had to make my way home carefully, walking through teargas at one point.

At the moment my main problem is the fact that I am running out of food and I have no credit left on my phone, so I can't communicate with anyone.

I hope that the shops will open again tomorrow. I'll just have to wait and see what happens. I am concerned and no-one seems to know what is going on, but fundamentally the Tunisians are nice people so I don't feel too scared.

Amel Gaaloul, Tunis

Image caption Buildings in some cities were subject to attack

We're all very happy that Ben Ali has left the country. We're singing and dancing. We were hoping he would leave earlier but at least he is gone.

We managed to work together to throw him out - and a lot of that was down to the internet and social networking.

We are now hoping for a fair and transparent government. Anything can happen now.

Everybody was walking about earlier - with about 200 to 300 people in the middle. The atmosphere was peaceful at first - people were clapping and everything was calm. There were families and a lot of professionals around. I met up with a lot of people I worked with.

But when the police arrived the attitude changed. The police just started hitting people, it was terrible. We didn't know if we were going to get shot. I managed to escape just before the police started throwing teargas at everyone.

At the same time we were all trying to find out what was going on and we were speaking via Facebook and Twitter.

It was worrying as there was a lot of looting going on at the same time - but it was mainly the houses and shops belonging to the president and his supporters.

The worst bit for me was last night. I was supposed to be having a friend come over but the whole area was blocked from 4pm onwards. The looting there was madness - there was gas everywhere.

David Wilson, La Marsa

David Wilson is the headmaster of a British school near the capital, Tunis.

On Friday 14 January, he was preparing to leave the country.

Here, he speaks to the BBC's Tim Wilcox.

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