February 21, 2011 / 7:33 PM / in 8 years

Tunisia gov't seeks to dissolve Ben Ali party

* Request to dissolve party must be approved by court

* Would prevent party from presenting candidate in poll

* Party members accused of sowing instability

TUNIS, Feb 21 (Reuters) - Tunisia’s Interior Ministry filed for the dissolution of ex-President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali’s political party on Monday following accusations its members sought to destabilise the country, state media reported.

The request, if approved by Tunisia’s court system, would make it impossible for the party to present a candidate in forthcoming elections to replace the former leader, ousted last month in a wave of street protests.

“The interior minister on Monday filed a request with the Court of First Instance for the dissolution of the Constitutional Democratic Rally,” state news agency TAP said. The First Instance Court is Tunisia’s lowest court.

The move to disband the RCD party comes after the North African country’s interim government suspended the party’s activities earlier this month, saying its members played a role in instability since Ben Ali was ousted.

Ben Ali loyalists fought gunbattles with Tunisian soldiers shortly after the ouster and are suspected having incited clashes in parts of the country since.

Ben Ali took power in 1987 and was widely seen as a repressive ruler who raided state coffers while ignoring the plight of the poor. Elections to replace him are expected in July or August.

Tunisia’s Central Bank on Monday said Ben Ali had stashed some 41 million dinars ($29 million) worth of cash, diamonds and gold in secret spots in his presidential palace in the capital, TAP reported. (Reporting by Tarek Amara; Editing by Richard Valdmanis and Jon Hemming)

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