Tunisia court dissolves ousted president's party

Tunisians demand an end to mass protests, Tunis (5 March 2011)
Image caption Some Tunisians are calling for protesters to return to work and let the country recover

A Tunisian court has dissolved the party of deposed President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali, ousted on 14 January.

The dismantling of his Rally for Constitutional Democracy party had been one of protesters' main demands.

The ruling blocks the party - whose activities were suspended after Mr Ali left the country - from putting forward a candidate in future elections.

The decision to disband the party triggered a burst of applause from a packed courtroom.

The court "has decided to dissolve the Rally for Constitutional Democracy and to liquidate its assets and funds", the ruling said, according to AFP.

The move comes just two days after the country's interim prime minister announced a new government which will run the country until elections, scheduled to take place on 24 July.

Former interim Prime Minister Mohammed Ghannouchi, who was seen as too close to the old regime, resigned last week in one of a spate of resignations.

New interim Prime Minister Caid Essebsi's line-up included no members of the old regime but retains most of the key ministers from the previous interim administration, including those for defence, interior, justice and foreign affairs.

'Ultimate victory'

On Monday, the interior ministry also dissolved the country's secret police service, widely accused of committing human rights abuses.

It said the move was a "definitive break with any form of organisation resembling the political police at the level of structure, mission or practice".

The secret police had played a key role in suppressing the opposition in the country.

According to Human Rights Watch, members of the agency "hounded dissidents, tortured Islamists, and shook down their compatriots".

The BBC's regional analyst, Magdi Abdelhadi, said that dismantling the agency had been a key demand of the opposition, so the move will be seen as the ultimate victory over the Ben Ali regime.

Tunisia has struggled to restore stability since mass protests ousted Mr Ben Ali.

The victorious protesters have been demanding that the new leaders move faster to bring about political and social change.

However, other Tunisians have been urging the protesters to return to work and bring an end to the rallies.

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