Tunisia disbands feared secret police and a new-look government (VIDEO)


Tunisian Prime Minister Beji Caid Essebsi speaks during a press conference after unveiling the new government on March 7, 2011 in Tunis.


Fethi Belaid

Tunisia's new interim government, announced Monday and containing no cohorts of deposed president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, has dissolved the hated secret police.

The interior ministry, in naming the so-called "public authority" that will run Tunisia until elections on July 24, in an online statement Monday, also said it was disbanding the State Security Department, under which the secret police operated.

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

The move was a "definitive break with any form of organization resembling the political police at the level of structure, mission or practice," it said, according to the BBC.

The new authority would would respect "civic freedoms and rights," it said.

"These practical measures are in harmony with the values of the revolution, in the wish to respect the law, in word and deed, and in consecrating the climate of confidence and transparency in the relationship between the security services and the citizen," it said

The public authority has 22 members, including interim Prime Minister Beji Caid Essebsi and 17 officials in posts they occupied in a government formed on Jan. 27, but none of them belongs to any political party.

Despite Ben Ali's ouster and unprecedented freedoms introduced by the new administration, which also released all political prisoners, protesters had continued to demonstrate against having members of his regime in the government.

The previous interim prime minister, Mohammed Ghannouchi, who was close to Ben Ali, and two other ministers who had also served in Ben Ali's government resigned last week. Interim President Foued Mebazaa appointed  Essebsi, 84, a lawyer and former minister, to replace Ghannouchi.

At the time, Ghannouchi said he was "not running away from responsibility." "I am not one who makes decisions that can lead to victims," Ghannouchi said during a press conference in the capital Tunis. "I am not an oppressor and will never be."

"This resignation will serve Tunisia, and the revolution and the future of Tunisia," he added.