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Japan offers Tunisia 335 mn euros in loans

Japan plans to provide Tunisia with two loans worth 335 million euros ($465 million) to support the country's "democratisation," Senior Vice Foreign Minister Nabuo Kishi said Tuesday during a visit to Tunis. One loan will finance construction of an electrical power plant in Rades, south of the capital, while the other will be for a project to prevent flooding by Tunisia's biggest river, the Oued Medjerda, the Japanese embassy said in a statement. The loans, with an annual interest rate of only 0.6 percent, will be repayable over 40 years, with a 10-year grace period.

Tunisia prostitutes petition parliament to return to work

A group of Tunisian prostitutes demanded Tuesday to be allowed back to work, 18 months after their brothel in the resort town of Sousse was attacked by hardline Salafists and closed down. A delegation handed deputy parliament speaker Meherzia Laabidi, a woman, a petition signed by 120 prostitutes calling for their brothel in the popular coastal resort to be allowed to reopen.

Women's Day event denied permission in Sudan

Sudanese authorities refused permission for an International Women's Day event in Khartoum, an activist said on Sunday, despite President Omar al-Bashir's vow that freedoms should be respected. The March 8 event -- marked around the world -- had been held without incident for the past eight years at Khartoum's Nubian Club, women's activist Fahima Hashim told AFP. "We didn't get the permission" from state security agents for Saturday's planned event, she said.

Three killed in Cairo clashes, 48 wounded across Egypt

CAIRO (Reuters) - Three protesters were killed and dozens wounded as Muslim Brotherhood supporters and police clashed across Egypt on Friday, the health ministry and security sources said. Security sources said two were killed in street battles with the police in the Cairo district of Alf Maskin and a third in the capital's Abbaseya. Protesters fired weapons and hurled petrol bombs at police who responded with tear gas, they said.

Tunisian jailed over Mohammed caricatures freed

A Tunisian jailed for posting caricatures of the Muslim Prophet Mohammed online was freed Tuesday, his lawyer said, two weeks after securing a presidential pardon. Jabeur Mejri, 29, whose was seen as the first post-revolution prisoner of conscience, "is back home," Ahmed Mselmi told AFP. Mejri had been jailed for seven and half years in jail for posting the cartoons on his Facebook page. The case sparked a heated controversy in Tunisia, with secular opposition and human rights groups campaigning for his release.

Tunisian jailed over Mohammed caricatures freed

A Tunisian jailed for posting caricatures of the Muslim Prophet Mohammed online was freed Tuesday, his lawyer said, two weeks after securing a presidential pardon. Jabeur Mejri, 29, whose was seen as the first post-revolution prisoner of conscience, "is back home," Ahmed Mselmi told AFP. Mejri had been jailed for seven and half years in jail for posting the cartoons on his Facebook page. The case sparked a heated controversy in Tunisia, with secular opposition and human rights groups campaigning for his release.

Tunisia's PM warns difficult economic situation, pledges austerity

TUNIS, Tunisia - Tunisia' new prime minister delivered a sobering assessment of the country's economy and warned of future belt tightening that may include cuts to subsidies. Since overthrowing its dictator three years ago, Tunisia's economy has suffered low growth rates and high inflation, leaving many frustrated at the lack of progress. "The situation is more difficult than we imagined, especially on the financial level," said Mehdi Jomaa in a televised address late Monday, a month after his new government was put in place.

Tunisia's economic woes could become 'catastrophic'

Tunisian Prime Minister Mehdi Jomaa warned Monday that the country's economic woes could become "catastrophic," saying that people will have to make sacrifices. Tunisia's economic recovery since its 2011 "Arab Spring" revolution has been hampered by political instability, social unrest and Islamist violence. "Frankly, the situation is more difficult than we thought," Jomaa said in an interview aired on public television a month after becoming prime minister. "We will have to make sacrifices... You can ignore reality, but reality won't ignore us," he added.

Arab Spring will fail unless Tunisia transition succeeds: foreign minister

By John Irish PARIS (Reuters) - Tunisia said on Wednesday that it needs more help from its European partners in its transition to democracy because if it fails no other country in the Arab region will succeed. During a visit to Paris to boost economic ties and seek help to bolster security to fight Islamist militants, foreign minister Mongi Hamdi said his country had done "exemplary" work to move towards elections by the end of the year, but more support was needed.

Egypt's Morsi urges 'revolution' as officer killed

Egypt's deposed president Mohamed Morsi Saturday urged supporters from a courtroom dock to press their "revolution", as a protest movement demanding his reinstatement shrinks in the face of a crackdown. The defiant call came during Morsi's trial on charges related to jailbreaks and attacks on police, as a separate court acquitted six police officers of killing protesters during the 2011 uprising against his predecessor Hosni Mubarak.
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