British FM condemns violence, urges elections in Tunisia

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British Foreign Secretary William Hague on Friday condemned the violence in Tunisia and called for free and fair elections, after the Tunisian president fled following deadly protests.

"I condemn the violence and call on the Tunisian authorities to do all they can to resolve the situation peacefully," Hague said in a statement, after a dramatic day in Tunisia that saw President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali flee.

"I am calling for a rapid return to law and order, restraint from all sides, an orderly move towards free and fair elections and an immediate expansion of political freedoms in Tunisia."

The Foreign Office has advised against all but essential travel to Tunisia and one of Europe's biggest tour operators, Britain's Thomas Cook, said Friday it was evacuating 1,800 British and Irish holidaymakers from the country.

The Tunisian government has declared a state of emergency following a weeks of violent unrest.

© 2011 AFP

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