The president and prime minister in Tunisia's day-old interim government have left the ruling RCD party, state TV says, in an apparent bid to calm protests that have raged for days.Prime Minister Mohammed Ghannouchi has said all members of the national unity government have "clean hands".
But protesters say no members of the old regime should retain power, and have demanded the RCD be disbanded.
Four ministers earlier stepped down over the issue.
Three of the ministers, who were opponents of the former government, were angered over the inclusion of members of the disgraced old regime in the new government.
The old guard include interim president Foued Mebazaa, who was the speaker of the country's parliament until President Zine al-Abedine Ben Ali was forced from power on 14 January.
And Mr Ghannouchi, who unveiled the national unity government on Monday, is a veteran RCD figure and has been prime minister since 1999.State TV reported that the two men were quitting the RCD to "split the state from the party".
The AFP news agency quoted state news agency TAP as saying that the RCD (Constitutional Democratic Rally) had also expelled former President Ben Ali from its ranks.
Earlier, three ministers from the opposition General Union of Tunisian Workers (UGTT) stepped down from the new administration.
Officials from the movement said the trio - junior transport minister Anouar Ben Gueddour and two other ministers, Abdeljelil Bedoui and Houssine Dimassi - were resigning in protest at the continued presence of RCD figures in the administration.
Later, Mr Ghannouchi's choice as health minister, Mustafa ben Jaafar from the Union of Freedom and Labour, refused to take up his position, a senior party official said.
'Era of freedom' On the streets of Tunis and several other cities angry demonstrators called for those members of the RCD still in power to step aside, and were strongly critical of Mr Ghannouchi.
"I am afraid that our revolution will be stolen from me and my people. The people are asking for freedoms and this new government is not. They are the ones who oppressed the people for 22 years," Ines Mawdud, a 22-year-old student, told the Associated Press.
Despite the resignations and the street protests, a number of ministers were sworn in on Tuesday in official ceremonies in Tunis.Opposition figure Najib Chebbi, founder of the opposition Progressive Democratic Party, took up his position as development minister.
Prominent blogger Slim Amamou, who was briefly jailed by President Ben Ali's police, was also sworn in as minister for youth and sports.
Earlier, Mr Ghannouchi defended the inclusion of members of the old regime in his new government.
He said they had "clean hands" and had always acted "to preserve the international interest".
He repeated pledges made on Monday of a new "era of freedom", which would see political parties free to operate and a free press.
Free and fair elections would be held within six months, he said, controlled by an independent election commission and monitored by international observers.
Unrest in Tunisia grew over several weeks, with widespread protests over high unemployment and high food prices pitching demonstrators against Tunisia's police and military.
President Ben Ali was forced into exile last Friday.
On Monday the government admitted 78 people had died in street clashes.