Tunisian authorities struggled to restore order Sunday, arresting the top presidential security chief and trying to stop gunfights that erupted in and beyond the capital. One clash broke out around the deposed president’s palace on the Mediterranean shore, another near the headquarters of the main opposition party.
Observers worldwide were looking to see which way the North African nation would turn as its new leadership sought to tamp down the looting, arson and random violence that has taken place since autocratic President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali fled to Saudi Arabia on Friday. The nation was in the midst of an unprecedented power shift for the Arab world.
Tensions appeared to be mounting between Tunisians buoyant over Ben Ali’s departure and loyalists in danger of losing major perks built up under his patronage. Tunisian police made dozens of arrests, some for drive-by shootings on buildings and people in the capital, Tunis.
The security chief Ali Seriati and his deputy were charged with a plot against state security, aggressive acts and for “provoking disorder, murder and pillaging,” the TAP state news agency reported.