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Tunisian opposition leader returns

Jan. 31, 2011 at 3:20 PM

TUNIS, Tunisia, Jan. 31 (UPI) -- The United Nations would be pleased to help the Tunisian people choose their next leaders through free and fair elections, the U.N. secretary-general said.

Tunisian Prime Minister Mohammed Ghannouchi overhauled much of the Cabinet for the transitional government in the wake of the resignation of the country's foreign minister. Few allies of ousted President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali remain after a protest suicide brought down his government.

Skirmishes continued in the country despite the reshuffling of the government and pledges to embrace democratic reforms.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in a weekend statement said the "winds of change" are blowing through the Arab world after the Tunisian revolution.

"And around the world, the leaders (and ourselves) must listen attentively, more attentively, more sincerely -- to the voice of the people, their aspirations, their hopes for a better future," said Ban in a statement.

Meanwhile, the leader of the formerly banned al-Nahda party, Rachid Ghannouchi, returned to Tunis after living in exile for more than 20 years as the transitional government makes plans for new elections in six months time, al-Jazeera reports.

The group was banned under the former Tunisian government and his return was welcomed as a "milestone" for the political future of the country.

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