TUNIS:Tunisia’s president, Beji Caid Essebsi, declared a state of emergency on Saturday, eights days after 38 foreign tourists, most of them British, were killed in an Islamist gun attack.The state of emergency law temporarily gives the government more flexibility and the army and police more security , and restricts the right of public assembly.
Tunisia’s President Declares State of Emergency After Motel Attack
The president will address the nation on television at 5pm, the official news agency, Tunisie Afrique Presse (TAP), reported on Saturday afternoon.Final five bodies of Britons killed in Tunisia attack arrive in UK The attack on the Sousse beach resort last Friday followed a gun attack on the Bardo museum in Tunis in March – two of the worst militant assaults in Tunisia’s modern history, and a pressing threat to its vital tourist industry.
Tunisian officials say all three gunmen in those two attacks had been trained at the same time, over the border in jihadist camps in Libya, where a conflict between two rival governments has allowed Islamist militant groups to gain ground. The declaration came as the final five bodies of the 30 British victims killed in the attack on the beach resort of Sousse arrived back in the UK.There has been criticism of the slow response by security services to the attack by Islamist militant Seifeddine Rezgui, who opened fire on the beach in front of the Imperial Marhaba hotel in Sousse on 26 June. He was eventually shot dead by Tunisian police in an alley.
Tunisia prime minister Habib Essid admitted in an interview with the BBC that the police were too slow to respond. “The time of the reaction – this is the problem,” he said, adding that the police had been blocked everywhere.In the aftermath of the attack, the authorities announced they would move more speedily to close 80 mosques operating without official authorization, or where the imam delivering the Friday sermon was found to be preaching extreme views.Scores more mosques are under review for possible closure, the Religious Affairs Ministry told the Guardian. These include small unofficial mosques opened clandestinely by jihad Salafist groups, as well as ordinary neighborhood mosques.
Tunisia last had a state of emergency during the 2011 uprising against the autocratic regime of Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali.Under the country’s new constitution, approved in January last year, the president has the right “in the event of imminent danger threatening the nation’s institutions, or the security or independence of the country” to “take any measures necessitated by the exceptional circumstances”.The parliament will “be deemed to be in a state of continuous session” throughout the state of emergency. The president “cannot dissolve” the parliament, the constitution states.