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Tunisia government prolongs state of emergency

The Tunisian government on Sunday decided to prolong the nation's state of emergency, which has been in effect since opposition forces ousted former president Zine Al Abidine Ben Ali [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] in 2011. Ben Ali fled Tunisia to Saudi Arabia in January 2011 during protests against his 23-year autocratic rule in which his family amassed substantial wealth that many Tunisians say was at their expense. Following his departure, and the murders of opposition politicians Chokri Belaid in February and Mohamed Brahmi in July, the nation has remained in political deadlock. Government opposition contingents have called [AFP report] for the current government's dissolution, which voted in March to establish [JURIST report] a deadline for elections and an initial draft constitution. The state of emergency is set to last for another eight months.

Tunisia has faced political turmoil since Ben Ali left office amid nationwide protests in 2011. A UN Working Group on discrimination against women in law and in practice in January called on the government of Tunisia to adopt stronger constitutional measures to combat gender inequality and discrimination [JURIST report], while accelerating the participation of women in all aspects of society. In October 2012 HRW called on Tunisian authorities to investigate a series of attacks [JURIST report] by religious extremists and to bring those responsible to justice. In October 2011 the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay emphasized the importance of adherence to the rule of law [JURIST report] as Tunisia moves forward with its new government.

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