TUNIS — An international arrest warrant was issued for ousted president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali as more protestors against the government engaged in clashes in the capital city with riot police.
Ben Ali and his wife Leila Trabelsi along with other members of his formerly all-powerful family have been accused of illegally acquiring assets and transferring funds abroad during the leader’s 23 years as leader of Tunisia according to justice minister Karoui Chebbi.
“No one will be above the law,” Chebbi said after the announcement of the arrests of 33 members of Ben Ali’s family.
The announcements came after tensions mounted leading up to a critical cabinet shake-up this past week with thousands of people taking to the streets in Tunisia’s second biggest city, Sfax, during a strike. They called for Ben Ali's powerful RCD party to be disbanded and for figures linked to his regime to be removed from government.
U.S. President Barack Obama said in his State of the Union speech on Tuesday that in Tunisia "the will of the people proved more powerful than the writ of a dictator."
"And tonight, let us be clear: the United States of America stands with the people of Tunisia, and supports the democratic aspirations of all people."
Assistant Secretary of State Jeffrey Feltman, the U.S.’ top-ranking official on the Middle East, also visited Tunis saying he planned to press for democratic elections.
He said that other Arab states should press for reforms after the “example” set by Tunisia.