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Tunisia president lifts state of emergency

Extraordinary measures had been in force in the country since the 2011 uprising that triggered the Arab Spring.

Last updated: 06 Mar 2014 13:39
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Moncef Marzouki lifted the emergency rule four months early but said security forces could still uphold the law [AP]

The president of Tunisia, Moncef Marzouki, has lifted a state of emergency in force since the 2011 uprising that triggered the Arab Spring.

"The president and commander-in-chief of the armed forces... issued a decree lifting the state of emergency in the whole country from Wednesday, March 5, 2014," a statement from his office said.

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

It has also affected tourism, which was a major part of Tunisia's economy. Almost seven million tourists came to the country in 2010, a few months before the uprising. A million less visited in 2012.

Tunisia has been rocked by sporadic attacks blamed on rebel groups since the 2011 revolution that toppled a decades-old dictatorship and touched off uprisings across North Africa and the Middle East.

In November, Marzouki had extended the emergency rule for eight months until the end of June, meaning it has been lifted four months early.

"The lifting of the state of emergency does not limit the capacity of the security services to implement the law and does not preclude any request for military support should it be needed," according to the statement.

This "will not bring about changes in the implementation of laws and policies in place in the country, including those concerning military operations areas and border buffer zones".

Special military zones were established last year on Tunisia's borders with Algeria and Libya, where the authorities say armed groups are active.

Much of the violence witnessed in Tunisia since the January 2011 uprising has been blamed on Ansar al-Sharia, a movement accused of having links to al-Qaeda.

The government has said Ansar was behind the assassinations last year of two secular politicians, deaths that plunged Tunisia into political turmoil.

The group never claimed those or any other attacks.

For more than a year, the security forces have been battling armed fighters hiding in the remote border regions of western Tunisia, notably in the Chaambi mountains.

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