TUNIS: Tunisia yesterday extended a state of emergency in place since its 2011 uprising, as politicians remained deadlocked in talks to choose a new premier at a time of rising Islamist unrest.
The presidency said it was extending until end of June the state of emergency, which has been renewed by periods ranging from one to three months over the past year and a half.
It did not explain the decision nor why the measure was extended by a full eight months.
The announcement came as the ruling Islamist party Ennahda and the opposition failed to meet a Saturday deadline to agree on a new prime minister to steer Tunisia out of a months-long crisis.
The UGTT powerful trade union which has been mediating the talks said a new deadline has been set for Monday noon.
Tensions have gripped Tunisia since veteran strongman Zine El Abidine Ben Ali was toppled in the 2011 uprising, and were exacerbated by the murders of opposition politicians Chokri Belaid in February and Mohamed Brahmi in July. The opposition and the government say Islamist radicals, oppressed under Ben Ali and whose influence has grown since the uprising, are behind the killings and deadly attacks targeting mostly security forces.
The opposition has demanded the government’s resignation and the formation of a cabinet of independents, accusing the current line-up headed by the moderate Ennahda of failing to rein in jihadists. After months of stalling, Ennahda opened talks with the opposition on October 25 in line with a roadmap to form the new government, agree on a much-delayed constitution and prepare for elections.AFP