- - Monday, November 21, 2011


Assembly’s inauguration establishes ‘legitimate rule’

TUNIS — A buoyant Tunisia is to enter a new phase of democratic rule Tuesday with the inauguration of its elected constituent assembly, 10 months after a popular uprising ended years of dictatorship.

“This event is like a second independence for Tunisia,” said Ahmed Mestiri, an iconic figure in Tunisia’s struggle to gain its 1956 independence from France.

“It’s the symbol of the break with the old regime and the establishment of legitimate rule,” said the respected 86-year-old former politician.

A popular uprising that started in December over unemployment and the soaring cost of living ousted Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, who had been in power 23 years and was thought to be one of the world’s most entrenched autocrats.

The revolt touched off a wave of pro-democracy protests across the region known as the Arab Spring, and Tunisians anchored their revolution last month with a historic election for a constituent assembly.

The 217-member body, which will be tasked with drafting a new constitution and picking a new executive, is dominated by Ennahda, a party inspired by the Muslim Brotherhood.


Country cutting ties with Iranian banks

LONDON — The U.K. will cut financial ties with Iranian banks because of fears about its nuclear program, Britain’s Treasury chief George Osborne said Monday.

Mr. Osborne said all U.K. financial institutions will cease business relationships and transactions with all Iranian banks, including the Central Bank of Iran on Monday.

The ban extends to all branches and subsidiaries of Iranian banks.

Mr. Osborne said this is the first time the government has cut off an entire country’s banking sector from the U.K.’s financial sector.

The British government acted after the International Atomic Energy Agency highlighted fresh concerns about the possible military dimensions of Iran’s nuclear program.

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