On Monday the Presidency of the Republic declared Tunisia’s nationwide state of emergency will enter its seventh month after it announced a thirty day extension effective Tuesday, June 21.
The announcement was made through a statement from the office of the Presidency shortly after a weekly Monday morning meeting between President Beji Caid Essebsi and Prime Minister Habib Essid which included a discussion of the security situation in the country.
The state of emergency has been in effect since November 24, 2015 when a suicide bomber attacked members of the Tunisia’s Presidential Guard as they boarded a bus intended to shuttle them from the area near the Ministry of the Interior in central Tunis to the presidential palace in Carthage. The Islamic State affiliated group Jund al Khilafah claimed responsibility for the attack which killed twelve security personnel.
The thirty day period marks the fourth extension of the state of emergency; the last extension of ninety days was announced on March 22 slightly under two weeks after the attack on Ben Guerdane when scores of militants simultaneously attacked security personnel, a national guard office, a customs office and a military barracks in the city that abuts the Libyan border.
The prolonging of the state of emergency in March was preceded by a sixty day extension in January which coincided with widespread protests over unemployment which spread from Kasserine. The protests included clashes between protesters and security personnel in several interior governorates and several incidences of looting occurred in the area of Tunis.
Although the state of emergency includes provisions limiting strikes and protests, the Tunisian government has (for the most part) not chosen to enforce the measures, however measures granting security forces extended powers of investigation and detention have been widely utilized.
The state of emergency was invoked in a complaint the government filed in February against striking members of the Union of Internal Security Forces (SNFSI-Syndicat National des Forces de Securite Interieure) after a protest organized by the SNFSI outside the Prime Minister’s Kasbah office saw several individuals scale the building’s outer walls.
More recently the state of emergency was mentioned by Interior Minister Hedi Majdoub as one of the justifications for barring Hizb Ettahrir from holding its annual party congress in Tunis earlier this month.