TUNIS, Tunisia — Tunisia sped toward a new future after its iron-fisted leader fled, with an interim president sworn ordering the country's first multiparty government to be formed.

But snipers boldly attacked police beside the Interior Ministry, violence hit tony neighborhoods and prisons alike and gunfire crackled steadily in the capital Saturday, heaping doubt on hopes for a smooth transition to a new era.

The omnipresent posters of ex-President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali were coming down, a vivid signal to citizens that Tunisia is moving on after 23 years of autocratic rule. Even the main state TV station changed its name.


For Tunisians who protested for four weeks — with police shooting dozens to death — the announcement that a "government of national unity" would be formed opens the possibility of a leap toward democracy in this Muslim country in North Africa whose modernity clashed with Ben Ali's repressive rule.

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