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Tunisia MPs slam 'light' verdicts for Ben Ali officials

Tunisian lawmakers on Monday condemned as excessively lenient appeal sentences handed to top security officials in Zine El Abidine Ben Ali's ousted regime for their part in repressing protests during the 2011 uprising. The military court in Tunis ruled on Saturday in several appeals trials of officials implicated in the bloody crackdown on protesters that left more than 300 people dead in Tunis and Sfax during the revolt that ousted Ben Ali and ignited the Arab Spring.

Tunisia public finances 'critical'

Tunisia's public finances are in such a critical state that the government resorted to "exceptional measures" to ensure April wages were paid, the government spokesman said Thursday. "Today the public finances are going through a difficult period, not to say critical, especially in terms of liquidity," radio stations cited Nidal Ouerfelli as saying. Ouerfelli is also a minister tasked with monitoring the North African nation's economy. The finance ministry had to resort to "extraordinary measures... to cover the salaries for April," he added, without elaborating.

Tunisian economy to strengthen

Economic growth in Tunisia, cradle of the Arab Spring uprisings, is expected to gather pace on the back of political and security improvements, the International Monetary Fund said Tuesday. The economy of the North African nation grew by 2.7 percent in 2013, but is expected to expand by 3.0 percent this year, the IMF said in its April World Economic Outlook. Growth in gross domestic product (GDP) should reach 4.5 percent in 2015, it said.

Tunisia arrests Islamist militants after bomb mishap

TUNIS (Reuters) - Tunisian police have arrested a group of Islamist militants who accidentally exploded a bomb they were manufacturing as part of a planned attack on the country's commercial city of Sfax, the government said on Sunday. The interior ministry said police had arrested eight suspected members of the militant group Ansar al-Sharia late on Saturday as part of a raid in Sfax, a Mediterranean port city around 170 miles southeast of the capital Tunis.

U.S. backs $500 million in loan guarantees for Tunisia

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States on Friday said it would provide a new loan guarantee for Tunisia worth about $500 million as part of a continuing effort to help the North African nation recover following its 2011 uprising. President Barack Obama, speaking ahead of a meeting with Tunisian Prime Minister Mehdi Jomaa at the White House, said the loan guarantees will help ensure that Tunisia has a "society that can thrive" and that its "economy begins to move forward with reform."

Tunisia sees elections in 2014, despite delays

TUNIS (Reuters) - Tunisia's presidential and parliamentary elections will go ahead as planned later this year despite delays in approving a new election law, authorities said on Wednesday. No date has yet been set for the elections, the second ballot since the 2011 uprising that ousted autocrat Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali and the first since the adoption of a new constitution praised internationally as a model for transition to democracy.

Seychelles extends asylum for relatives of Tunisia ex-dictator

Authorities in the Seychelles said Tuesday it was allowing the son-in-law of Tunisia's deposed dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali to continue his asylum on the islands for another 12 months. Sakhr El Materi, who was convicted in absentia of corruption by a Tunisian court, appealed for asylum in the Indian Ocean archipelago in February 2013. The Seychelles foreign ministry said Materi had been "granted an extension of an additional twelve months on his residence permit along with his wife, their three children and entourage."

Tunisia looks to win back tourists with image makeover

Tunisia is working against the clock to salvage its 2014 tourist season after three turbulent years, by revamping the country's image -- with the help of online media and a few Star Wars characters. "To change a country from one that is relatively inexpensive to a top-end tourist destination will take 10 or 15 years," said Amel Karboul, Tunisia's new tourism minister.

Tunisia ministry pictures: 'jihadists' or boy scouts?

Photographs of what the Tunisian government says are young jihadists training to fight in Syria have caused surprise amid claims that some show a boy scouts camp instead. At a news conference on Monday, the ministry presented pictures of a group of young men working in a field, claiming that they belonged to a "terrorist cell" in the Monastir region southeast of Tunis. "We have proof, documents, images... proving the existence of this camp where they were trying to train before sending young people to Syria," ministry spokesman Mohamed Ali Aroui told reporters.

Cruise operator suspends Tunisia stops after Israelis barred

The US-based operator of a cruise ship whose Israeli passengers were prevented from entering Tunisia, announced on Tuesday that it would no longer call at Tunisian ports. The Miami-based Norwegian Cruise Line said Monday that a "small number" of Israeli passengers were not allowed to disembark in Tunis "because of a last-minute decision made by the Tunisian government."- "In response to this discriminatory act, Norwegian Cruise Line announced today that it has cancelled all remaining calls to Tunisia and will not return," it said.
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