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Tunisia (and Beyond) LiveBlog: Debating the Future, Mourning the Past

2224 GMT: The Tunisian Prime Minister's office has regained control of its homepage, after it was taken over by the Anonymous collective earlier this evening (see 2135 GMT).

2215 GMT: Speaking on television tonight, Tunisian Prime Minister Mohamed Ghannouchi says he will not be a candidate in elections, due in six months, and will retire from politics.

2135 GMT: The Anonymous collective has posted a message on the homepage of the Tunisian Prime Minister:

We have monitored the situation in Tunisia for the past weeks and while we are glad to see that the people have risen to remove corrupt and inhumane politicians from their positions, we are also angered to learn that the Tunisian Internet is still being censored and methods of phishing are still being used by the Tunisian government to inhibit the freedom of its own citizens.

We will not rest until all restrictions on the Internet have been lifted. The primary purpose of this message is to remind you that Anonymous is aware of each and every one of your actions until these matters have been resolved.

2000 GMT: Al Masry Al Youm maintains both the possibility and the criticism of a protest movement in Egypt, with an article, "State's Union Control Keeps Egyptian Labor Quiet":

A recurrence of Tunisia's uprising in unlikely to occur in Egypt because the country lacks a strong independent labor movement, experts said.

The general strikes and mass mobilizations led by the country's largest trade union body, the UGTT [Union Générale Tunisienne du Travail, or Tunisian General Labor Union] not only helped topple President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali, but are also serving to determine the future of the Tunisian interim government and civil society.

The Egyptian context is different.

1955 GMT: AmmanNet has posted a series of photos from today's march in the Jordanian capital, with up to 10,000 people (see 1405 GMT):

1900 GMT: Tension may be rising in Algeria. The opposition Rally for Culture and Democracy has called for a march on Saturday but officials in Algiers have said the gathering is prohibited because it is "without authorization of the competent administrative authorities".

The Algiers authorities "asked citizens to exercise wisdom and vigilance and not to respond to any provocation intended to undermine their peace and their serenity".

The RCD maintains, that it followed procedures in submitting an application for a march and, as it was denied without explanation, the party will proceed with the rally "demanding the release of prisoners arrested during recent demonstrations, the lifting of emergency rule, restoration of individual and collective freedoms guaranteed by the constitution, and finally the dissolution of all 'elected' bodies".

Three buses with students of Tizi Ouzou University travelling to the rally were stopped at a police roadblock and ordered to turn back. The students got off the bus and tried to walk to central Algiers.

1845 GMT: Last week it was reported that Imed Trabelsi, the nephew of the wife of deposed Tunisian President Ben Ali, had been stabbed just before the fall of the regime and had died of his wound.

On Wednesday, we posted footage which claimed to be of Trabelsi just before his death but now it appears the video may be of preparation for a failed escape. Tonight Minister of Interior Ahmed Friaa has said that Trabelsi is alive and in prison in Tunisia.

1810 GMT: In Algeria, a group of 30 academics, journalists, and activists has called for democratic change with "the convergence of all...citizen initiatives, associations, unions, and political parties going in the direction of lifting the yoke of public life and for advent of democratic change in Algeria".

The statement has been disseminated by e-mail, Facebook, and the website of the Algerian daily Le Matin. Those signing include Among them, the academic and journalist Fodil Boumal, former legislator Haidar Bendrihem, academics Zoubir Arous, Lakhdar Hamina and Ahcène Bechani, war veteran Boudiaf Said, and editor Youcef Boussad Wadi.

1715 GMT: Tunisia's main trade union, the UGTT, has called for a "collegial national salvation government to be set up, in accordance with the demands of the street and political parties".

Earlier this week, the three union-backed Ministers resigned from the Cabinet.

Journalist Taoukif Ben Brik, who was jailed for criticising President Ben Ali, has said that he will run for President: "I feel I am the favorite candidate because I was the only one who during all those years openly fought Ben Ali."

Ben Brik follows opposition leader Moncef Marzouki into the race for the Presidency.

1640 GMT: Video of police in Tunis marching (see 1605 GMT) against the former ruling party RCD:

1630 GMT: Egyptian Finance Minister Youssef Boutros-Ghali has said that, while state subsidies represent a pillar of Egypt’s economic policy, they must not undermine the government's economic achievements. While the government was facing "difficulties" over food and fuel subsidies, "we must nevertheless continue taking steps towards reform."

1625 GMT: More protests in Jordan on "The Day of Rage"....

In addition to the estimated 10,000 in Amman (see 1405 GMT) and the march in Irbid (see 1325 GMT), hundreds of Jordanians have protested in front of the Al Omari Mosque in Karak in southern Jordan, calling for the dismissal of the Government, dissolution of Parliament, and reduction in taxes on basic commodities.

Hundreds also marched in the southern governorate of Tafileh, chanting, "The loaf of Bread is a red line," and calling for an end to government corruption.

1620 GMT: In Saudi Arabia, an elderly man has attempted to set himself on fire in the village of Samtah.

1605 GMT: A story is emerging in Tunisia of police protests against the old regime. A Tunisian website reports that officers at the barracks in Boushousha have marched to support victims during the recent demonstrations and to protest their general situation. The site says there is news of other marches, such as in the city of Gafsa.

One of those marches, according to this video, was in Tunis.

1405 GMT: While Associated Press says 5000 people participated in the "Day of Rage" in two Jordanian cities, Al Ghad says that there were about 10,000 in Amman alone. The march moved from the Al-Husseini mosque towards the main square in the area of Ras al-Ain, protesting the living conditions and high prices.

Security personnel distributed bottles of water and juices to protesters at the start of the march.


1325 GMT: In Jordan, more than 5,000 people from across the political spectrum, including the Muslim Brotherhood, left-wing groups, and trade unions, staged a "Day of Rage" on Friday in the capital of Amman and in northern town of Irbid.

The protesters demanded the resignation of Prime Minister Samir Rifai and called for Jordanians to be able to elect their Prime Minister and Cabinet, who are currently appointed by King Abdullah II.

1315 GMT: Thousands of protesters, chanting anti-Government slogans, gathered along Habib Bourguiba Avenue and in front of the Minister of Interior this morning. Police blocked the protesters at the Ministry and prepared water cannons. Demonstrators dispersed, with many heading toward the headquarters of the main labour union UGTT, calling for a general strike.

Tunisia Snapshot: US Media Try to Interpret the Uprising Tunisia Music Video: El General's Latest Song "Egypt, Algeria, Libya, Morocco, All Must Be Freed" Latest Tunisia Videos: Thursday's Protests Latest Tunisia Videos: Stealing President Ben Ali's Ferrari...With a Forklift Tunisia (and Beyond) Thursday LiveBlog: In Control?

1310 GMT: Tunivisions reports that eight members have resigned from the Progressive Democratic Party of Tunisia because of "a disagreement concerning the internal management of the party and the lack of democracy in its conduct".

Najib Chebbi, the leader of the PDP, agreed to join the Government as Minister of Regional Development. He threatened to resign if the Government did not break ties with the former ruling party, the RCD. Ultimately, however, he stayed while four other Ministers --- three from trade unions and the leader of another former opposition party --- quit.

1250 GMT: Minister of Youth and Sport Slim Amamou, who is also a prominent blogger, is reporting via Twitter on a Government meeting on censorship:

There are still sites, mostly porn, censored because of Tunisian law. We will have a judicial warrant, probably on Monday --- for these sites, the 404 page will be replaced by a page to make a complaint.

But the situation is more complicated than expected. Technicians related to [former President] Ben Ali had access to the Internet infrastructure and we will need experts to audit the infrastructure.

1145 GMT: The Jordanian Government announced on Thursday that it will spend $283 million in salary increases for government staff and bolstered pensions for retired government employees and servicemen.

The decision follows a supplmentary funding plan of $169 million, announced last week, to improved living conditions announced nine days ago by Prime Minister Samir Rifai.

Thursday's measure will add $28 to the monthly salary. Jordan's minimum monthly wage is $211.

The Government's steps come after opposition demonstrations for economic and political reforms.

1040 GMT: I guess the protests are getting boring for correspondents. CNN's Ben Wedeman writes from Tunis, "Another big demonstration on Habib Bourgiba Avenue...but off to do something different today."

0900 GMT: Tekiano reports on a strike on Thursday at Tunisia Telecom, where employees asked management to explain several cases of suspected fraud, including the awarding of contracts. The strikers also criticised cronyism and favoritism in recruitment policy.

0850 GMT: The Guardian of London offers this visual introduction to Syria and countries in North Africa. Facts include a Libya with the highest per capita income but also 30% unemployment, more than double than that of the next-highest country, Tunisia:

0840 GMT: A Libyan newspaper linked to Saif al-Islam, son of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, has launched a sharp attack on the "collective hypocrisy" that toppled President Ben Ali.

The newspaper advised the Tunisian people, "Do not accept the hypocrisy and aspirations of those who lied to cling to power....The foes of Ben Ali sold you out in the past and present and they will sell you out in the future," throwing the people "in the rubbish bin".

0810 GMT: Amidst discussion of the way forward for the country and Government, Tunisians begin three days of national mourning for those who died during the uprising that toppled the Ben Ali regime.

The Government has said 78 people were killed in clashes since 17 December. The United Nations puts the figure at 100.

On Thursday, two very different political events took place at the same time in Tunis. While a vocal protest reached the headquarters of Ben Ali's Constitutional Democratic Rally, trying to pull off the symbolic act of taking the RCD's letters off the facade of the building, the Cabinet was meeting in an attempt to consolidate its authority. The Ministers confirmed the release of all political prisoners, lifted the ban on all political parties, removed University police from campuses, and separated senior government employees from the RCD, which also had its assets stripped.

In a separate entry, we consider how the US media are putting their interpretations on the uprising. Meanwhile, there is a press rush to profile Mohamed Bouazizi, whose self-immolation on 17 December was the catalyst for protests: The Guardian of London visits his family to describe "The Dutiful Son Whose Death Changed Tunisia's Fate". And Al Jazeera films in Bouazizi's village of Sidi Bouzid, which gave its name to the Tunisian uprising:

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