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Tunisia interim president Fouad Mebazaa calls for election

Thursday, March 3, 2011; 8:31 PM

TUNIS - Tunisia's interim president said Thursday that an election will be held July 24 to appoint a council charged with rewriting the constitution after the ousting of the country's longtime leader.

In a televised speech, interim President Fouad Mebazaa said he and the caretaker government will stay in power until the election is held.

A source close to the president's office said that once elected, the constitutional council could either appoint a new government or ask the current executive to carry on until presidential or parliamentary elections are held.

Tunisia has struggled to restore stability since mass protests ousted President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali on Jan. 14.

Also Thursday, an organized international airlift relieved the high-pressure flood of people from Libya into Tunisia, as word spread to thousands of refugees stranded at the Ras Jdir border crossing that planes were taking people home.

Egyptian migrant laborers were being bused from a U.N. relief agency transit camp near the frontier to Djerba airport, where about 40 flights were due to ferry them to Cairo during the day. France said it was providing six flights a day for the coming days, and British charters have also begun a shuttle to Egypt.

- Reuters

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