afrol News, 28 January - Yesterday's reshuffle of Tunisia's interim government, ousting most of the old ruling elite, is welcomed by most Tunisians. The new government stands a good chance of stabilising the country.
A few hundred protesters are still campaigning outside the offices of Tunisia's Prime Minister Mohamed Ghannouchi - who also led the government under ousted President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali - demanding that also he should withdraw from government.
These protesters however currently seem to represent a small minority in Tunisia. One of the main driving forces behind the Tunisian protest movement, the UGTT trade union, even yesterday expressed its joy about the government reshuffle and withdrew its support from the further protests.
Also among ordinary Tunisians, the reshuffle is seen as a large victory in the fight against the ancien régime and for democracy. Most now focus on getting back to everyday routines, work and rebuilding the fragile economy. There is a desire for calm and stability.
Although PM Ghannouchi maintains his key position, yesterday's change in government was significant. Some 12 new ministers were appointed, most of which are seen as independent, replacing office holders strongly tied to the ousted regime of ex-President Ben Ali.
The first interim government after the revolution had been dominated by heavyweights from the former ruling party RCD - a party that meanwhile has been dissolved. Most gravely, these members of the old elite had occupied the strategic ministries of the Interior, Defence and Exterior.
The reshuffle now has brought independent candidates to all these key ministries. Of key importance is that former RCD members lost control of the Ministry of the Interior, which controlled the repressive arsenal of the old regime, including the police.
Equally important is that Tunisian Foreign Minister Kamel Morjane has resigned from his post. Mr Morjane was seen as the RCD hopeful to stand as a presidential candidate and return power to the old elite through elections. There was a widespread fear that PM Ghannouchi and Mr Morjane would seek to manipulate upcoming elections in favour of the latter.
The UGTT trade union now throws its support behind the reshuffled Ghannouchi government, expecting it will prepare for democratic elections within the six-month deadline earlier given.
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