Tunisia protests erupt after Ennahda poll win
TUNIS - The head of the Islamist party Ennahda that won Tunisia's weekend elections called Friday for calm in Sidi Bouzid, the town where the north African country's revolution began, after overnight unrest.
"We call for calm and the preservation of public property," Rached Ghannouchi said after more than 2,000 youths marched on Ennahda's headquarters and sacked public buildings in Sidi Bouzid following the announcement of election results on Thursday.
The interior ministry announced that a curfew would be imposed from Friday night in the central town, which is symbolic of the Tunisian revolution that began there in December 2010 when a youth burned himself to death.
"A curfew will be installed from tonight at 7:00 pm (1800 GMT) to 5:00 am tomorrow, and that will continue every day until further notice," a ministry spokesman said.
The Islamist leader said that in the violence he saw "the hand of the dissolved RCD," referring to the Rally for Constitutional Democracy party of Tunisia's former dictator, Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, who was ousted last January by the popular uprising sparked in Sidi Bouzid.
Demonstrators were protesting against the invalidation by the electoral commission of the party list of the Popular Petition, led by wealthy businessman Hechmi Haamdi, who had been declared winner in Sidi Bouzid, his home region, though he is based in London and campaigned through a television station.
This party list won 19 seats in Tunisia's new constituent assembly, but was declared invalid in six constituencies. The Popular Petition is suspected by other political parties of being run by former RCD members.
A police car was burned in the violence and police used tear gas on demonstrators, but there were no casualties, according to the interior ministry.