The president of Tunisia, Beji Caid Essebsi, has declared a state of emergency following last week’s deadly attack at the Sousse tourist resort, which killed 38 people.

On Friday the prime minister of Tunisia admitted that police had been slow in responding to the attack by an Islamist gunman.

The state of emergency gives security forces more powers and limits the right of public assembly.

A state of emergency temporarily gives the government more flexibility and the army and police more authority, and restricts the right of public assembly. Tunisia last had a state of emergency during the 2011 uprising against autocrat Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali.

Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi explains to the North African nation why he imposed a state of emergency after 38 tourists were killed in an attack on the Sousse holiday resort on June 26. (EPA)

With a nationwide televised address, Essebsi officially reintroduced urgent security measures for Tunisia that had been lifted in March 2014.

Essebsi said an “exceptional situation required exceptional measures” but pledged to respect freedom of expression.

The decision came just over a week after a gunman at the popular beach resort of Sousse attacked foreign tourists, killing 38 people. Essebsi said the state of emergency would last 30 days.

“Tunisia faces a very serious danger and it should take any possible measures to maintain security and safety,” he said. “As we see in other countries, if attacks like Sousse happen again, the country will collapse.”

Essebsi blamed the poor security in Libya for Tunisia’s problems, and the lack of international resolve in targeting the Islamic State group throughout the region. He said Tunisia specifically had been a target of the extremist group because it had a functioning, secular democracy.


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