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Wednesday, February 9, 2011     INTELLIGENCE BRIEFING

Tunisian military calls up reservists as organizers plan new demonstrations

CAIRO — Tunisia is preparing for a new round of anti-government protests.


Officials said the new government in Tunis has ordered a military mobilization as well as additional security forces to counter an effort to organize protests over the next few weeks. They said the protests, which included labor strikes, were being organized by the same groups that helped oust Tunisian President Zine Al Abidine Bin Ali in January.

"There are signs of a renewal of the bloody street violence that we thought was behind us," an official said.

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On Feb. 7, the Tunisian Defense Ministry ordered the mobilization of reserve soldiers as well as non-commissioned officers. In a statement, the ministry said the officers and reservists must register at recruitment centers starting from Feb. 16.

Officials said the post-Bin Ali government has been alarmed by the renewal of violent protests, which began around Feb. 5. They cited calls by protesters for a replacement of most of the ministers in the new government, identified as holdovers from the Bin Ali regime. The opposition has also demanded the dissolution of parliament.

The Interior Ministry has warned of a renewal of street protests. A ministry statement on Feb. 7 ordered police and other forces to be on alert for any action that could threaten domestic security.

"All members of the internal security forces must return to work immediately and remain at their respective stations until further notice," the Interior Ministry said.

The renewal of protests has also targeted appointments by the new government. Demonstrators expressed opposition to the appointment of 24 governors, 19 of whom were said to have been aligned with the former regime.

In southern Tunisia, several of the new governors have been threatened by anti-government mobs. Officials said the army has been recruited to protect the nominees, particularly in the province of Sidi Bouzid, where four residents were killed in police fire.

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