Tunisian president flees to Malta
The Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali left his country on Friday night, heading to Malta with the protection of Libya. In an official statement aired on state television, it was reported that the Tunisian Prime Minister Mohamed Ghannouchi took power temporarily, until a new presidential election is being held.
Earlier, Tunisian forces have surrounded the airport in the capital Tunis where a state of emergency had been declared. As thousands gathered in Tunis urging him to quit, Ben Ali dismissed his government and dissolved parliament, and called new elections within six months.
Ben Ali held this office from 7 November 1987. He was appointed Prime Minister in October 1987, and assumed the Presidency in November 1987 in a bloodless coup d'etat from then President Habib Bourguiba.