Caravan rally reaches Tunisia's capital

Protesters have not been satisfied by the prime minister's pledge to quit after elections

A protest march against Tunisia's interim government has reached the capital, adding to pressure on Prime Minister Mohamed Ghannouchi.

Some 1,000 demonstrators from the rural area where protests against Tunisia's authoritarian rule began had joined the "Caravan of Liberation" to Tunis.

They want the resignation of Mr Ghannouchi, who served under ousted President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali, and has pledged to quit after elections.

A vote is expected within six months.

The main trade union, the General Tunisian Workers' Union (UGTT), has backed the caravan protest, which set off on Saturday from Menzel Bouzaiane - the town where the first victim of the uprising was killed by security forces in December.

"The aim of this caravan is to make the government fall," said Rabia Slimane, a teacher taking part in the caravan protest.

A final day of mourning is being observed on Sunday for those killed in the unrest that led to last week's toppling of Mr Ben Ali, amid speculation as to whether Tunisian unrest could spread to other countries.

In Algeria, police broke up an anti-government demonstration on Saturday by about 300 protesters calling for greater freedoms. There were also protests in Yemen against the rule of President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

Perceived corruption

Mr Ghannouchi has left Mr Ben Ali's ruling Democratic Constitutional Rally (RCD) party and insisted that figures from the previous regime who have remained in positions of power - including the ministers of defence, interior, finance and foreign affairs - have "clean hands".

But this has failed to satisfy many opposition figures and protesters.

Fall from power

  • 17 Dec: Man sets himself on fire in Sidi Bouzid over lack of jobs, sparking protests
  • 24 Dec: Protester shot dead in central Tunisia
  • 28 Dec: Protests spread to Tunis
  • 8-10 Jan: Dozens of deaths reported in crackdown on protests
  • 12 Jan: Interior minister sacked
  • 13 Jan: President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali promises to step down in 2014
  • 14 Jan: Mr Ben Ali dissolves parliament after new mass rally, then steps down and flees
  • 15 Jan: Parliamentary Speaker Foued Mebazaa sworn in as interim president

On Saturday, policemen - who had defended the regime of the ousted president - were among those protesting, which the BBC's Magdi Abdelhadi in the Tunisian capital says marked a very dramatic development.

The official death toll during the unrest leading to Mr Ben Ali's flight was 78, though the UN says more than 100 people died. Authorities have promised to investigate the deaths of protesters.

Primary school teachers were reported to be planning a strike against the current government, which could hamper plans to reopen schools and universities this week. They have been closed since the final days of the unrest.

Protests against Mr Ben Ali's government began in December, driven by economic grievances and resentment about political repression.

Particular anger was directed at the former president's family, widely despised for its conspicuous consumption and perceived corruption.

As the protests continued to escalate, Mr Ben Ali and his wife fled to Saudi Arabia on 14 January.

Tunisian officials say they have arrested 33 members of Mr Ben Ali's family. On Saturday, AFP quoted a Canadian officials as saying that one of the ex-president's brothers-in-law had fled to Montreal.

Protesters have not been satisfied by the prime minister's pledge to quit after elections

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