TUNIS, Tunisia– After 23 years of iron-fisted rule, the president of Tunisia was driven from power Friday by violent protests over soaring unemployment and corruption. The ouster, virtually unprecedented in modern Arab history, sent an ominous message to authoritarian governments that dominate the region: Even strongmen can be overthrown by the power of the street.
The upheaval followed the country's largest protests in generations and weeks of escalating unrest, sparked by one man's suicide and fueled by social media, cell phones and young people who have seen relatively little benefit from Tunisia's recent economic growth. Thousands of demonstrators from all walks of life rejected Ben Ali's promises of change and mobbed Tunis, the capital, to demand that he leave.
The government said at least 23 people have been killed in the riots, but opposition members put the death toll at more than three times that.
In a string of last-ditch efforts to tamp down the unrest, Ben Ali dissolved the government and promised legislative elections within six months — a pledge that appeared to open at least the possibility of a new government. Before his removal of power was announced, he declared a state of emergency, including a curfew that was in effect Friday night and was to be lifted at 7 a.m. Saturday.Answer Question
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