WASHINGTON, Jan. 18 — U.S. State Department spokesman Philip Crowley said on Tuesday that his country is evacuating some of its citizens from Tunisia, which is undergoing a major political change.
Crowley said that State Undersecretary for Management Pat Kennedy has approved the “authorized departure” of dependents of U. S. diplomatic personnel from Tunisia, which means those dependents had the option of departing.
He said a Tuesday flight from Tunis, the capital of Tunisia, to Rabat, the capital of Morocco, has taken roughly 70 U.S. citizens, including official and private passengers, out of the country.
The U.S. State Department had previously issued a travel warning for Tunisia.
Crowley said the situation on the ground has improved “somewhat ” over the last couple of days, but it is still “a very fluid situation.”
He said this is a period of “significant transition” for Tunisia, and the United States hoped that the interim government of Tunisia will take this opportunity to “chart a course for their country that provides for inclusion of all peaceful and democratic forces in the political process through open and fair elections.”
Tunisian Prime Minister Mohammed Ghannouchi Monday went on state TV to announce a list of an interim national unity government, with foreign, interior and defense ministers to keep their jobs and several opposition figures to enter the cabinet.
The formation of the interim government, aimed to satisfy the Tunisians who have been protesting for weeks against soaring prices, unemployment and corruption, appeared to be not big enough a progress for a nation that experienced dramatic change as the 23 years of iron-fisted rule of president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali ended.
Thousands of Tunisians took to the streets of Tunis on Tuesday to protest against the new-born interim government, demanding the ruling Constitutional Democratic Rally party (RCD) to give up power.
In order to calm part of the anger, Tunisian interim president Foued Mebazaa and Prime Minister Mohammed Ghannouchi quit the ruling RCD party on Tuesday.