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Tunisia's Ben Ali goes into exile after month of uprisings (UPDATE 2)

Arab World Materials 14 January 2011 22:32
Tunisia's leader Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali went into exile on Friday after a month-long popular revolt that claimed dozens of lives, dpa reported.
Tunisia's Ben Ali goes into exile after month of uprisings (UPDATE 2)

Details added (first version was published at 21:47)

Tunisia's leader Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali went into exile on Friday after a month-long popular revolt that claimed dozens of lives, dpa reported.

Tunisian Prime Minister Mohamed Ghannouchi said on national television that Ben Ali had left the country and that Ghannouchi would become interim president of the north African country, with support from the army.

Ben Ali had been president of the north African country since 1987.

Al-Jazeera television network reported that Ben Ali had fled to Paris, and had already arrived in the French capital Friday night. It was not known whether France was his final destination. Some reports suggested he had been offered refuge in Libya.

His departure comes after a month of anti-government demonstrations that were brutally repressed by the police.

More than 60 protesters were killed since mid-December, most shot dead by police firing on crowds with live bullets.

A state of emergency was declared in Tunisia on Friday evening. The army took control of the main airport in Tunis and Tunisian airspace was closed.

Thomas Cook travel agency evacuated 2,000 German tourists from Tunisia. France's BFM television reported that a French plane carrying tourists to the north African country had turned back after Tunisian airspace was closed.

As a last gesture in a day where tens of thousands of people had again demonstrated nationwide, Ben Ali had fired his government and announced early elections.

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