Tunisia lifts state of emergency, three years after revolt

Photo: Tunisia lifts state of emergency, three years after revolt / Arab World

Tunisia has lifted a state of emergency three years after it was imposed, in a largely symbolic move to show security is improving in the North African state, Reuters reported.

Since the 2011 uprising that ousted autocrat Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali, Tunisian security forces have been battling militants from the hard-line Islamist movement Ansar al-Sharia, one of the radical groups to emerge after Ben Ali's fall.

"The President of the Republic issued a decree to lift the state of emergency beginning on March 5, 2014," a statement from the presidency said on Thursday.

The state of emergency had kept security forces on alert across the country and given troops and police authority to intervene in protests. Troops have arrested dozens of militants and killed others during raids over the past few months.

It has also affected tourism, which is a major part of Tunisia's economy. Almost 7 million tourists came to the country in 2010, a few months before the uprising. Last year, that was down to about 6 million in 2012.

Attracting more tourists will help Tunisia to stabilize its economy. Then it can carry out reforms demanded by international lenders, who want to see the state reduce its budget deficit and trim public spending.

Prime Minister Mehdi Jomaa said on Monday that "terrorism" had left, without giving details. Ansar al Sharia has been blamed for clashes with security forces and for a suicide bombing at a beach resort at the end of last year - the first such attack in Tunisia in more than a decade.

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