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Tunisians bask in new freedoms

Tunisians continue to take to the streets, pushing for the prime minister to step down.

On Friday, hundreds marched from Habib Bourguiba across the capital to meet hundreds more rallying outside the doors of the Prime Minister’s office on Friday.

Some displayed homemade banners saying “RCD out of government!” as others attempted to scale the walls of the building.

“The dictator is gone. But the dictatorship is still here! We have to uproot it!” screamed one man to the crowd.

Ghannouchi appealed for calm during a televised speech to the nation late on Friday night, saying he would not remain in office following the organization of elections.

Many in Tunis seemed unconvinced the following day.

More than 1,000 protesters gathered on Habib Bourguiba Avenue on Saturday chanting anti-government slogans.

Some members of the country’s security services, saluting and singing the national anthem, also demonstrated in an apparent attempt to show solidarity with Tunisians after a month of violence.

Seventy-eight people were killed during clashes since the unrest began in mid-December, according to the government.

The United Nations estimates that over 100 were killed, many by police using live-fire during demonstrations.

“We will not stop demonstrating until the RCD ministers are out of government. The change that has happened is only a ‘half change’ so far,” said Ghamra Zenaidi, 53, who brought her 16-year-old daughter to witness the transformation on Habib Bourguiba. “Complete change is urgent, and we will not leave until they do.”

With protests scattered throughout the city, security forces and army tanks were still occupying areas outside government buildings and in several intersections throughout the capital on Saturday.

The nationwide curfew was extended, but still in effect, and military helicopters still could be seen and heard patroling above.

Meanwhile, in Saudi Arabia, a man has died by self-immolation, according to an Associated Press report on Saturday.

Several attempted suicides and deaths by self-immolation have been reported from Algeria to Egypt in the past week, following the death of Tunisian Mohamed Bouazizi in early January.

Bouazizi’s suicide protest on Dec. 17 in the central Tunisian town of Sidi Bouzid sparked the uprising that eventually led to Ben Ali’s departure.

On Habib Bourguiba Avenue, Tunisian protesters were aware of the impact their uprising has had both locally and across North Africa and the Middle East.

“It’s not just this street that symbolizes change. It’s happening on every street in Tunisia,” said the mother, Zenaidi. “We never expected this day to come here. But now that it has, I want the freedoms we’ve found to spread to countries throughout the region.”

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/africa/110122/tunisia-habib-bourguiba-zine-al-abidine-ben-ali