Once-feared Tunisian police join protesters

At least 2,000 police rally in downtown Tunis, an epicenter of protest and clashes between youths and police that forced President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali to quit.

By ASSOCIATED PRESS
January 23, 2011 11:04
Tunisian police riot

Tunisia riots 311. (photo credit: REUTERS)

 
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TUNIS, Tunisia — Tunisia's once-feared police staged a rally of their own Saturday, demanding better salaries and insisting they're not to blame for shooting deaths among protesters who forced the North African country's longtime autocrat to flee.

At least 2,000 police rallied in downtown Tunis, an epicenter of protest and clashes between youths and police that forced President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali to quit the country he ruled with an iron fist for 23 years.

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It was a significant development for Tunisia, where police under Ben Ali were widely feared. The rally took place near the hulking Interior Ministry, a symbol of the dread that his regime inspired for many Tunisians.

Saturday's crowd on Avenue Bourguiba, where daily protests have been held, drew many plainclothes and uniformed police with red armbands. They sought to press demands like the creation of a labor union, better pay and — like other protests in recent days — the ousting of any members from Ben Ali's party from the government.

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