Lingering insecurity: Tunisia extends state of emergency

‘There remain certain risks’

TUNIS - Tunisia's president Sunday prolonged a state of emergency imposed on January 14, 2011, the day the former regime fell, to the end of April, citing security risks, his office said.
"This decision was made after consultations with the head of the national constituent assembly and the head of government," President Moncef Marzouki's office said in a statement.
"Despite the improvement these recent weeks in the security situation of the country, there remain certain risks," the statement added.
This marks the fourth extension of the emergency provision, which bans demonstrations on major public roads and allows police to fire on any suspect who refuses to obey instructions from the authorities.
Former strongman Zine el Abidine Ben Ali fled the country in January 2011 following a popular uprising that sparked similar movements across the Arab world.
Marzouki's latest move comes amid an uptick in demonstrations in central Tunis, some organised by Islamist groups demanding the creation of a religious state and others by liberal factions calling for a secular government.
The head of the National Constituent Assembly, Mustapha Ben Jaafar, on Friday warned against the onset of "chaos" and "rebellion" in the country.
"Our country has recently seen some dangerous phenomenons, like calls to kill one another, desecrations of the Koran and holy sites, the abasement of the national flag," he said at the opening of a debate on the security situation in Tunisia.
Meanwhile, Tunisian media reported Sunday that the national assembly will present its economic and social programme next week, anticipating 3.5 percent economic growth in 2012.
La Presse, a daily paper, said the cabinet signed off the plan that is expected to emphasize boosting Tunisia's tourism sector and mineral production.
The Islamist government led by Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali, in power since December, has been criticised by the opposition for doing too little to revitalise Tunisia's battered economy.