Tunisia extends emergency rule until June 2014

By bne IntelliNews November 4, 2013

Tunisia’s Presidency issued a decree extending the state of emergency in the country until late June 2014, the state news agency TAP reported. The emergency rule has been in place since the 2011 uprising that ousted the Ben Ali regime. The expected decision came amid worsening political and security turmoil with the Tunisian army and security forces currently facing Al-Qaeda led attacks.

The political situation is also deteriorating as rival political groups have so far failed to reach a consensus on the future PM who will supposedly form a transitional and independent government. Rival parties agreed over the weekend to postpone the PM selection for 36 hours, ending on Monday, November 4, the Secretary-General of the Tunisian General Labour Union Houcine Abassi said. Ahmed Mestiri and Mohamed Ennaceur are among the shortlisted candidates that also include Mustapha Kamel Nabli and Jalloul Ayed. The new PM was expected to be announced on Saturday, November 2.

The president of Nidaa Tounes party, Beji Caid Essebsi, claimed that the ruling Islamic Ennahdha party's insistence on its PM candidate has derailed the talks.

In October, Ennahda started negotiations with the secular opposition on a road map that will pave the way for the formation of a new neutral government ahead of new parliamentary elections. The current government will reportedly resign at the end of three weeks of talks if rival parties agree on a new PM.

Tunisia has been in a political deadlock since February 2013 when an opposition leader was gunned down in the capital Tunis. The opposition has called for the resignation of the government but Ennahda has refused to do so.

Last week, Fitch downgraded Tunisia's long-term foreign currency Issuer Default Rating (IDR) by two notches to BB- from BB+ and local currency IDR to BB from BBB-.The outlook on both IDRs is negative. The political uncertainty and its potential damaging economic impact coupled with rising terrorist attacks and related worsening security and stability are the main reasons for the ratings downgrade, Fitch said. Further cuts could occur if the political crisis heightens or if the budget and current account deficits don't narrow sharply, Fitch warned.

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