Protests, strikes continue in Tunisia
TUNIS — Authorities clashed with antigovernment protesters outside the prime minister’s office yesterday, teachers went on strike, and police demanded the right to form a union as Tunisia struggled to stabilize itself after its president was overthrown.
After an overnight “sleep-in’’ in defiance of a national curfew, scores of protesters from Tunisian provinces gathered in central Tunis, shouting antigovernment slogans. As the crowd grew rowdy, police fired tear gas grenades in the air, and some demonstrators shattered the windows of police cars.
Schools were set to reopen yesterday after protracted closure because of the unrest, but teachers went on strike. Some students joined the demonstrations.
The protesters are angry that holdovers from the regime of the former president, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, have leading posts in the interim government. Ben Ali fled the country Jan. 14 after 23 years in power, pushed out by weeks of deadly protests driven by anger over joblessness, corruption, and repression.
The confrontation yesterday was brief and involved a small group of protesters, and the atmosphere seemed calm soon afterward. At one point the army chief of staff, General Rachid Ammar, addressed the crowd, promising the army would be the “guarantor of the revolution’’ and urging calm.