February 15, 2011 / 2:23 PM / in 8 years

UPDATE 1-Tunisian government extends state of emergency

(Adds background)

TUNIS, Feb 15 (Reuters) - Tunisia’s Interior Ministry extended on Tuesday a state of emergency but lifted a night-time curfew which was declared at the height of protests that toppled the president last month.

“The state of emergency will continue until further notice. The ministry also announced that the curfew ... has been lifted across the whole country,” the official TAP news agency quoted an Interior Ministry statement as saying.

The curfew and state of emergency were declared on Jan. 14, a few hours before a wave of popular protests forced President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali to flee to Saudi Arabia.

The caretaker government that took over after Ben Ali’s overthrow kept the emergency measures in force to help it contain an outbreak of violence and lawlessness in the weeks that followed.

Since then, stability has been gradually returning, though there are still flare-ups of violence and protests.

There had been mounting pressure on the government to lift the curfew from the tourist industry — one of the Mediterranean country’s biggest sources of revenue — which said the restriction was scaring off visitors. (Reporting by Tarek Amara; Writing by Christian Lowe)

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