Africa

EU freezes assets of allies of Tunisia's ousted Ben Ali

File photo (2009) of then Tunisian President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali and his wife Leila in Carthage, near Tunis
Image caption The EU has already frozen Mr Ben Ali's assets, now it is targeting his allies and relatives

The European Union is freezing the assets of 46 allies and relatives of the deposed Tunisian President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali and his wife.

The Tunisian strongman fled to Saudi Arabia after weeks of anti-government protests; some of his associates have gone elsewhere.

The latest EU measure was taken after talks with the new Tunisian government, according to an EU official.

EU foreign ministers had already agreed to freeze Mr Ben Ali's assets.

Authorities in Tunisia have issued an international arrest warrant for the ex-president, accusing him of taking money out of the country illegally.

Restrictions easing

Meanwhile, Tunisia's new tourism minister says the government will lift a state of emergency, which has been in place since 14 January.

It was imposed by Mr Ben Ali before he fled, along with a curfew which authorities have reduced as protests have faded.

"We wanted to do this step-by-step out of caution and to ensure total security for people," Tourism Minister Mehdi Houass was quoted by Reuters as saying.

The tourism industry been badly affected by the recent instability. Mr Houass told reporters that tourism revenues and visits were down by 40% in January.

Major street protests have dried up in Tunisia in recent days, after a reshuffle of the new government purged more Ben Ali loyalists.

In another sign of things returning to normal, the UK Foreign Office has changed its travel advisory for Tunisia.

It no longer advises against all but essential travel to Tunisia, but says travellers should be aware of the current political and security situation.

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