Africa

Tunisia's Moncef Marzouki lifts state of emergency

Tunisian President Moncef Marzouki reacts as he signs the new Constitution in Tunis (27 January 2014) Image copyright AP
Image caption Moncef Marzouki was a human rights lawyer before he became president

Tunisia's President Moncef Marzouki has repealed a state of emergency in place since the 2011 overthrow of the former leader, his office has said.

Tunisia has been hit by huge street protests and fighting with Islamist militants since the uprising that sparked the Arab Spring.

Analysts say the move is a sign that the country is trying to return to normality, after a new constitution was adopted in January.

Elections are due later this year.

The emergency gave the government the power to ban strikes and restrict the movement of people.

However, journalist Naveena Kottoor says such measures were not often used.

"The lifting of the state of emergency does not limit the capacity of the security services to implement the law and does not preclude any request for military support should it be needed," Mr Marzouki's office said in a statement.

The emergency came into force after long-serving ruler Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali was ousted in January 2011.

In November, Mr Marzouki extended the state of emergency to the end of June, meaning it has been lifted four months early, the AFP news agency reports.

Tunisia's moderate Islamist party Ennahda won the first democratic election after the uprising.

However, it has faced strong opposition from militant Islamists as well as secular forces.

A caretaker government took office last month in the hope of uniting the country ahead of new elections.

Government forces have been battling militants suspected of hiding out in the remote mountainous regions of western Tunisia.

The militants have been accused of assassinating two secular politicians last year, plunging the country into turmoil.

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