TUNIS, (AFP) — Tunisia’s new Prime Minister Beji Caid Essebsi on Friday accused toppled president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali of “high treason” during his first public appearance.
“I have no doubt that the former president made himself guilty of high treason for having renounced upholding his responsibility of ensuring security and stability” and for “having left” the country when he was “commander in chief of the armed forces,” Caid Essebsi told a news briefing.
Ben Ali fled his north African country for Saudi Arabia on January 14 after a month-long popular uprising against his rule, which began in 1987.
Caid Essebsi, who took office last Sunday, stressed that high treason was a crime punishable by the death penalty.
He also said that he would announce a government “within two days” in view of “restarting the economic cycle without any delay, because we are on the edge of a precipice.”
“Our priority will be to re-establish the authority of the state, which has declined to an unsupportable extent, which means the re-establishment of security for all citizens, regions and institutions,” he said.