Lybia’s ruler Muammah Gaddafi on Saturday said he regretted the fall of Tunisia’s authoritarian leader Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in a speech broadcast on television and radio.
“The bloodshed in Tunisia was for nothing,” Gaddafi said, adding that Tunisians should have given Ben Ali three years until 2014 to remove him in a democratic election.
Gaddafi said “the transfer of power from one president to another is simple” and addd that Ben Ali “is still the legitimate president.”
The speaker of Tunisia’s parliament, Fouad Mebazza, after he was sworn in as interim president on Saturday, asked Prime Minister Mohamed Ghannouchi to form a national unity government.
Mebazaa pledged to uphold pluralism and democracy and respect the constitution, after being sworn in as acting president.
“All Tunisians without exception and exclusion must be associated in the political process,” he said Saturday after taking the oath.
He said outgoing Prime Minister Ghannouchi would be tasked with forming a new government and underlined that “a unity government is necessary in the greater national interest.”
Ben Ali signed a decree handing Ghannouchi interim presidential powers before flying out of Tunis Friday to refuge in Saudi Arabia following violent street protests initially sparked by joblessness.
But his nomination under article 56 of the constitution had still left open the door to his return and was contested by jurists.
However, the country’s Constitutional Council declared the head of state had “definitively” left power and appointed Foued Mebazaa acting president under the constitution in a communique published by the official news agency TAP.
The council made its ruling at the request of Prime Minister Mohammed Ghannouchi and based its ruling on article 57 of the constitution, which lays down a strict procedure for the transition, including the calling of elections within a maximum of 60 days.
Article 56 does not require elections to be called and does not give an acting president the right to run for president.
When he was named, Ghannouchi did not mention elections, committing himself only to carrying out decisions taken by Ben Ali, which included calling early elections within six months.
The council’s announcement came as demonstrations and rallies were getting under way in towns across Tunisia demanding the departure of Ghannouchi, in the job for less than 24 hours.
The marches were going ahead despite a state of emergency barring any assembly on public roads and giving security forces the right to open fire on anyone violating the ban.
Ben Ali in Saudi The Saudi government has welcomed President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and his family to the kingdom
Saudi palace statementEarly on Saturday, Saudi Arabia officially announced that it was hosting toppled Ben Ali and his family after they fled their country.
A palace statement carried by the official SPA news agency confirmed that Ben Ali arrived early Saturday in the kingdom after fleeing Tunisia on Friday in a dramatic end to his 23 years in power following deadly protests.
“Out of concern for the exceptional circumstances facing the brotherly Tunisian people and in support of the security and stability of their country… the Saudi government has welcomed President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and his family to the kingdom,” the statement said.
“The kingdom of Saudi Arabia stands totally alongside the brotherly Tunisian people and hopes that they will close ranks in order to overcome this difficult period in their history,” the statement added.
A Saudi source said earlier that Ben Ali’s plane had landed overnight in the Red Sea city of Jeddah but did not specify who had accompanied him to the Kingdom.
“The plane with President Ben Ali on board has landed in Jeddah,” the Saudi source, who declined to be identified, told AFP.
The wife of Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali, Leila (R), and her daughter, Halima An airport source said hat Ben Ali left the plane and went to the airport’s VIP lounge.
Saudi Journalist and former editor-in-chief of the Saudi newspaper Al-Watan.Jamal Khashoggi told Al Arabiya TV that Ben Ali would be placed “under control will not be allowed to engage in any political activity.” “He will not even be allowed to make unauthorized phone calls.”
“Like Pakistan’s former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif who lived away from politics and practiced business but was not allowed to engage in kind of politics (When he fled to Saudi Arabia),” he added.
Khashoggi said he was “disturbed” by the kingdom’s decision to host Tunisia’s ousted president and was worried about potential attacks against Saudi interests in Tunisia.
According to media reports, Saudi Arabia is dispatching a plane to evacuate its nationals from Tunisia, where crowds reportedly gathered for protest in front of the Saudi embassy on Saturday.
Ben Ali’s family members on French soil have no reason to stay
French government spokesman Franois Baroin Meanwhile, France said Saturday Ben Ali’s relatives should not seek refuge there, after it was revealed that a group of them were holed up at Disneyland Paris.
A Disneyland official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that the group had left the resort complex just east of Paris at around 2.00pm (1300 GMT) on Saturday, but it was not clear where they were headed.
The party included Ben Ali’s daughter by his second wife Leila Trabelsi, 24-year-old Nesrine, and at least one of his grandsons, a French security source told AFP, also speaking on condition he not be named.
They checked into a VIP suite in the Castle Club section of the resort on Thursday, one day before Ben Ali was forced to flee his homeland by mounting street protests, and had booked through until Sunday.
“Ben Ali’s family members on French soil have no reason to stay,” French government spokesman Franois Baroin said. “This family has not expressed any desire to stay on French soil and it should leave.”