Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi declared the state of emergency in a speech addressing the nation on Saturday, stressing Tunisia is going through difficult circumstances that require exceptional measures.
The state of emergency is for 30 days and can be extended by the president, according to the 1978 law.
In his speech Essebsi explained that since the popular uprisings of 2010 and 2011, the government has been facing social and economic challenges; mainly unemployment and social unrest.
The emergency state law allows the interior ministry and the government to announce curfews, lead raids without warrants, control media content, and stop protests and strikes.
“There are about 600 000 unemployed Tunisians. Some of them have been unemployed for five years now, and nothing has changed for them,” added Essebsi.
The President described most of the recent strikes as illegitimate and as an attempt of “civil disobedience.”
As investment requires a stable and convenient environment, “this new policy of ‘either provide work for everyone, or nobody works at all’ is unacceptable.”
Essebsi mentioned an example of a foreign investor who had a 557 million euros project plan in Tunisia choose a neighbor country instead, because of social unrest in Tunisia.
When addressing the security challenges, Essebsi pointed out that Libya has failed in its role, explaining that the Tunisian-Libyan borders of 500 Kilometers are not completely safe from extremists.
“Most of these borders are in the desert, and securing them requires special advanced equipment that we don’t have,” he said.
Additionally, Essebsi blamed the chaos and instability in Libya such as the existence of several armed terrorist organizations that represent “a state within a state.”
He also noted the interference of several foreign countries in Libya, with different agendas. A common and organized plan of action between the countries in the region is necessary in order to secure the borders from smuggling weapons and terrorists, according to Essebsi.
The Tunisian government expected the Bardo museum attack, which took place in March and led to the death of tens of tourists, to be the last deadly attack against civilians. Terrorists had mainly targeted soldiers and national guard agents before then.
“Tunisia is targeted because it is the only country in the region that has followed a democratic process in its transition. We held free and transparent elections and drafted a constitution based on consensus.
Tunisia is a civil state with no Islamic background, or any other religious background; some parties do not want to see this happening,” stated Essebsi.
The president reaffirmed the ongoing cooperation between Tunisia, and the USA, France, Germany, England, the European Union, and especially Algeria, in fighting terrorism.
Finally, Essebsi called on citizens and journalists to act responsibly as freedom of expression and press are crucial gains of the revolution that cannot be taken away.