Tunisia’s interim president Fouad Mebaza has pledged a “total break” with the old regime as prosecutors launch an inquiry against the previous president.

Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali fled Tunisia on 14 January to Saudi Arabia following weeks of protests against his regime over poverty and unemployment. Prosecutors will now start studying Ben Ali’s domestic and foreign assets.

In line with this, the central bank has now taken over a bank owned by Ben Ali’s brother-in-law in the first move against assets controlled by the former president’s family.

Mebaza has also vowed to grant amnesty for political prisoners, media freedom and an independent judiciary. The government has so far freed a dissident journalist who had been sentenced to four years in prison in 2010 over his work.

The tensions in Tunisia have been felt across the Arab world and have sparked protests in Algiera, Egypt and Jordan.

Tunisia’s interim government is due to hold democratic parliamentary and presidential elections in the next six months. However, under the constitution, elections should be held in less than 60 days (MEED 19:1:11).

Moncef Marzouki, a critic of Ben Ali, returned to Tunisia on 18 January after years of exile in Paris and plans to run in the presidential election.