Tunisia parly meets after RCD ban
Tunis - Tunisia's parliament met on Monday to vote emergency powers for the country's interim president after the government banned the ruling party of ousted leader Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.
Prime Minister Mohammed Ghannouchi told the 125 deputies present in 214-seat parliament that they had to approve the measure in order to bring peace to a country still mired in turmoil three weeks after Ben Ali was ousted in a popular revolt.
"Time is precious. Tunisia has real need of rule by decree to remove dangers," he said at the first parliamentary session since Ben Ali's overthrow.
"There are people who want Tunisia to go backwards but we must honour our martyrs who fought for liberty."
A vote on the new legislation will take place later on Monday before the measure goes before the upper house of parliament, the Senate. If approved it will give interim leader Foued Mebazaa power to rule by decree and to sidestep parliament which had been dominated by the Constitutional Democratic Assembly (RCD), the party of Ben Ali which was suspended on Sunday.
The suspension was taken as a first step to dissolving the long-feared RCD, which had a monopoly on power under Ben Ali.
Prior to the vote hundreds of demonstrators gathered outside parliament demanding the dissolution of the assembly, known as the unpopular RDC's former power base.
The legislation still has to pass through parliament's upper house before becoming law.