Marzouki – Tunisia Must Have an Elected President and Prime Minister By Next September

Tunis — Caretaker president Moncef Marzouki affirmed, in a TV interview on Sunday evening, the need to speed up the organization of presidential, parliamentary and local elections so as to hold them before the end of the current year, saying that the completion of the election process « will spare Tunisia the terrorist threat and boost its economy ».

« Tunisia must have an elected president and prime minister by next September and local elections should be held between next October and November », he said in an interview broadcast on Sunday evening on national Wataniya 1 channel.

Marzouki affirmed support to Mehdi Jomaa’s cabinet because « its success is Tunisia’s », stressing that its chief mission consists in leading us to elections and not in restructuring government institutions.

He also said he had conveyed a message to interim PM Mehdi Jomaa, inviting him to provide the election body with all state resources to hold the elections as soon as possible. Asked if he was running for the presidential election, Marzouki answered that « he will carry on his mission as president until the end ».

« Why should I resign to enter into an election campaign? Who would then be the next president for three or four months? », he argued.

Marzouki affirmed that his mission is to preserve the country’s stability, keep on dealing with the issues of the army and security, promote the country’s foreign image and boost the national dialogue between the political players.

« I will carry on my mission until the promulgation of the election law and the clarification of the political scene », he said, adding « I will then decide if I should run for the presidential election because I am perfectly entitled to run».

As regards the revision of appointments, the president reckoned it is a complex issue which is not less important than reviewing the situation of enterprises and banks on the verge of bankruptcy.

Jomaa’s cabinet is not able to solve all problems and settle all issues, he declared. Speaking of terrorism, Marzouki said he believed that dealing with this issue should not be limited to the security field but must be dealt with its root causes through eradicating poverty, reducing unemployment and banishing marginalization.

Besides, he denied the fact that the Troïka and more particularly Ennahdha party had provided a political cover to terrorism, adding that security forces had spared no effort to contain this scourge.

Speaking of Tunisia’s foreign policy, Marzouki announced that PM Mehdi Jomaa will leave for Washington next April 4 at the invitation of US president Barack Obama.

As to Tunisia’s stand towards the development of the situation in Syria and Egypt, Marzouki said he is in favour of dialogue and understanding between the antagonists in the two countries, adding that « dialogue is the way to settle political crises ».

The president also condemned the involvement of Tunisian youths in fights between armed groups in Syria, announcing that the national Security Council and the justice ministry had started to think about finding formulas to secure the return of « those who have been manipulated ».

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Tunisia to Tighten Niqab Controls

Tunis — The Tunisian interior ministry on February 14th announced stricter controls on people wearing the niqab.

“The measure is being taken because of the threat the country faces and because of terrorist suspects using the niqab… to disguise themselves and escape justice,” the interior ministry said.

The ministry urged citizens to be understanding and help security units do their work.

Security forces have recently arrested a number of terrorists and criminals wearing niqabs. Authorities also pointed out that the terrorists who were hunted down in Raoued as well as those arrested in Ariana moved from Jebel Chaambi to the capital wearing niqabs.

That has led several people to call for a ban on wearing niqabs in light of the threat to the country’s security and stability.

Cheikh Houcine Abidi, a Zeitouna mosque imam, said in remarks published February 13th that the government should ban wearing the niqab to prevent terrorists and criminal from carrying out their plans. He added that niqab did not exist in Islamic jurisprudence, noting that Islamic dress for Muslim women was limited to the veil.

Abidi explained that the use of the niqab for terrorist purposes to the detriment of the community and to kill people made it illicit in religious terms.

For his part, Tunisian Mufti Sheikh Hamda Said supported a potential ban on niqab for security purposes.

“The ruler can legitimately restrict the scope of what is permissible if he deems it for the good of the nation such as for the security of the country,” he said in a press statement.

Mazen Chérif, an analyst who specialises in terror cases, said that history has proven that the niqab was being used for crime and anonymity. He added that the human face was an ID.

“Since security reports have demonstrated that the niqab is being used in terrorism, it is necessary to ban it,” he commented.

Tunisians are divided between supporters of a potential ban on the niqab and those rejecting it

Nawel Kilani, a 23-years-old information sciences student, pointed out that the niqab was an intruder on the Islamic religion, which calls only for the veil.

“The government should enact a law to prevent this outfit in order to protect us and protect our country from terrorists and criminals,” Kilani said.

Youssif Krid, a 31-year-old restaurant worker, stressed his support for the decision, saying, “The niqab is now badly used in Tunisia and has become linked to terrorism. A law banning it in Tunisia has become an urgent necessity and a national duty.”

In turn, his friend Mahjoub Chabi said he supported the decision on the condition that it would be rescinded once the situation stabilised.

On the other hand Samar Ajmi, owner of a tailor shop, said that dress was part of the freedom achieved by all Tunisians after the revolution. She called for the need to accept this freedom, including both its positive and negative sides.

In this regard, the Interior Minister Lotfi Ben Jeddou said during a hearing at the Constituent Assembly on February 13th that banning the niqab would be a political decision beyond the security establishment.

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Thermal Rocket Falls Near Tunisian Consulate in Benghazi, No Casualties

Tunis, — A thermal rocket fell on Saturday night a few meters from the Tunisian Consulate in Benghazi (Libya), causing no casualties or material damage, Abdelkader Sehli, Director of Consular Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs told TAP.

The origin of the rocket is still unknown, he noted, adding that the Libyan authorities immediately went to the scene to conduct investigations.

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Review of Nominations – Ennahdha Against Policy of Exclusion On Basis of Partisan Belonging

Gafsa — Ali Laarayedh, member of Ennahdha party Shura council and former interim Prime Minister said that his party is opposed to any policy which practices exclusion on the basis of partisan belonging in reviewing nominations.

Chairing, Sunday in Gafsa, the meeting of the Ennahdha regional bureau in the region, Laarayedh underlined that reviewing administrative appointments is necessary in case of missing the duties, partiality or lack of skill and integrity.

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