TUNISIA. Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali has left the country and the Prime Minister has taken over control of the government.
Prime Minister Mohammed Ghanouchi in a televised address, said on Friday that he has assumed control of the government as the president is "temporarily unable to exercise his duties".
Ghanouchi said he would serve as interim president, Reuters reported.
Al Arabiya said a six-member leadership council would be formed to rule the country until elections. The council will be led by the head of Parliament and will include the defence minister.
"I vow that I will respect the constitution and implement the political, economic and social reforms that have been announced ... in consultation with all political sides including political parties and civil society," Ghanouchi said in the live address to the nation.
Prior to the televised address, Tunisian state television said it was expecting the announcement of an "historic decision" which will satisfy the desires of the north African country's people.
Friday's developments come following violent clashes in the capital, Tunis, over unemployment and rising food prices.
Earlier, The Tunisian government said it had declared a national state of emergency, banning public gatherings and authorising security forces to fire on anyone refusing to obey orders.
A 12-hour curfew across the country would come into force from 6:00 pm (1700 GMT), added a government statement carried by the official TAP news agency.
"It is forbidden for more than three persons to gather on the public highway," it said.
"The police and the army are authorised to fire on any suspect person who has not obeyed orders or fled without the possibility of being stopped."
A curfew which covered only Tunis has been spread to the whole of the country and extended from its earlier period of 9:00 pm to 5:30 am (2000 to 0430 GMT.
The new crackdown was decreed after thousands marched in Tunis calling for President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali to step down after 23 years in power, before being dispersed by volleys of teargas.
Airport sources say the Tunisian army has seized control of the country's main international hub and closed airspace, AFP reported. Earlier, President Ben Ali dissolved the government and called for early elections.
Ben Ali had been in power for the last 27 years. On Thursday, he vowed not to seek re-election and reduced food prices in a bid to placate protesters.