TUNIS — Tunisia's president fired the country's communications minister Wednesday after protests over unemployment that spread to several towns and led to at least two deaths.
President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali replaced Oussama Romdhani in a government reshuffle, but retained the interior minister despite opposition calls to oust him, according to a government statement.
The president, who runs this tiny Muslim country in North Africa with an iron fist, said the night before that the recent protest violence was manipulated by foreign media and hurt the country's image. Tunisia is a popular destination for European tourists and one that rarely sees unrest or public dissent. Ben Ali's government was clearly caught off guard by days of spreading discontent.
The protests began in the central town of Sidi Bouzid after a young man tried to set himself on fire earlier this month, in despair after police seized fruits and vegetables he had been selling illegally.