Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Tunisia has lifted its curfew, but extended the state of emergency, which has been in place since former President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali fled the North African country.

The curfew had also been in place since January 13, the day before the ousted president left office in the wake of nationwide pro-democracy protests, the Associated Press reported Tuesday. 

The Tunisian Interior Ministry, in a statement, urged the police and the military to maintain vigilance against attempts to sow discord between them in the fragile North African country. 

"To prevent anything that may harm the security of the state and to ensure the security of citizens and protection of public and private goods, it was decided to extend the state of emergency from Tuesday, February 15 until further notice," the statement noted. 

The state of emergency was imposed on January 14 when Ben Ali fled Tunis to seek refuge in Saudi Arabia as the month-long popular revolt fueled by pro-democracy protests against unemployment, living costs and the government, gained momentum.

The state of emergency forbids any public street gathering of three people or more and authorizes police and security forces to use their weapons against suspects who do not turn themselves in when ordered to do so. 

Nationwide outrage at the government's suppressive policies sparked the revolution in Tunisia last month, which ended Ben Ali's 23-year-long rule and sent him fleeing to Saudi Arabia. 

The popular revolution ignited a wave of similar pro-democracy protests against other authoritarian governments across the Arab world. source

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