Tunisia extends 2015 state of emergency

AFP , Thursday 16 Feb 2017

Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi (Photo: Reuters)

Tunisia has extended for another three months a state of emergency in place since a 2015 Islamist militant attack, the president's office announced Thursday.

President Beji Caid Essebsi has decided "to extend the state of emergency for three months from 16 February", his office told AFP.

The state of emergency has been in place since a November 2015 Islamist militant bombing in Tunis that killed 12 presidential guards on a bus.

The Islamic State (IS) militant group claimed the attack as well as bombings earlier in 2015 at the Bardo National Museum and at a beach resort that killed 59 foreign tourists and a Tunisian guard.

They were part of an ongoing Islamist militant insurgency since a 2011 revolution toppled long-time dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.

The government has repeatedly renewed the state of emergency despite its assurances that security has improved in the North African state.

The state of emergency grants emergency powers to the police and in theory grants authorities the right to prohibit strikes and meetings likely to provoke "disorder".

It also allows measures "to ensure control of the press".

Prime Minister Youssef Chahed told local radio station Mosaique FM on Wednesday that the state of emergency would be "definitively lifted in three months".

Defence Minister Farhat Horchani added that there had been a "major improvement" in the security situation.

"But as long as our situation is linked to Libya and as long as Libya does not have a government that is in control of the situation... the threat exists," he said.

Tunisia shares a 500 kilometre (310-mile) border with Libya, a country plagued by chaos since the 2011 fall of its longtime dictator Muammar Gaddafi.

Islamist militant groups including IS have taken advantage to set up operations in ungoverned areas of the country.

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