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Arab League calls on Tunisians to unite and pay tribute to 'martyrs'

The Arab League will shortly issue a statement calling for unity among Tunisians and tribute to those martyred during weeks of deadly riots which culminated in yesterday's disposition of the Tunisian leadership

Dina Ezzat , Saturday 15 Jan 2011
Arab League

In a written statement to be issued shortly by the secretariat of the Arab League, the organisation will pay tribute to the "martyrs" – victims of the four weeks of wide popular unrest across Tunisia which ended with the disposition of Tunisian president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali after 23 years in power.

"Yes, we do call them martyrs, and yes, we convey condolences for the loss of lives [of 90 Tunisian demonstrators] to the Tunisian people and to the families of those martyred," said Hesham Youssef, Cabinet Chief of the Arab League Secretary-General.

The statement will be the first official reaction by the Arab organisation regarding the dramatic developments in Tunisia which have grown over the past four weeks, ultimately leading to Ben Ali's expulsion – called a dictator by hundreds of thousands of demonstrators.

The statement, according to Youssef who spoke to Ahram Online by phone, will also call on the Tunisian people to unify their ranks and to work for the stability and safety of their own nation.

No reference to Ben Ali is expected to be included in the official statement, as the leader's removal from power was officially acknowledged at 12:00pm (Cairo Local Time) by Tunisia's parliamentary speaker.

That being said, Youssef claimed that the secretariat of the Arab League had not yet received, as of mid-day Saturday, any official correspondence from the Tunisian capital regarding any developments.

Ahram Online, however, has learned that Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa has been in touch with Tunisian officials.

Youssef stated that a collective Arab position, in support of the Tunisian people, is expected to be formulated during Arab meetings scheduled over the next few days in Sharm El-Sheikh -- the venue of the Arab Economic Summit.

The secretariat of the Arab League has not yet received any official notification on who would represent Tunisia in this summit.

Tunisian sources say that it might be either Tunisian Foreign Minister Kamal Morgan or Tunisia's Permanent Representative to the Arab League Al-Monguie Al-Badawie.

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