17 January 2013

Tunisia: Limited Meeting On Latest Developments in Mali

Carthage — The latest developments in Mali and Tunisia's stance vis-à-vis the Malian crisis was the focus of a limited meeting held Thursday in Carthage Palace with attendance of the President of the Republic, the National Constituent Assembly Speaker and the Prime Minister.

The meeting was also attended by Interior Minister Ali Larayedh, National Defense Minister Abdelkarim Zribi, Foreign Affairs Minister Rafik Abdessalem as well as Chief of Staff of the Tunisian Armed Forces General Rachid Ammar.

The meeting is held following the increasing cycle of war as the violent armed groups are approaching the capital Bamako, which required the French military intervention at the request of the Malian government.

Tunisia asserts, in a statement at the end of the meeting read out by the Foreign Minister, its "support to Mali's security and its territorial unity and condemns the threats facing Mali by these armed terrorist groups."

Tunisia said that "it understands the sovereign decision of the Malian government to face the security risks threatening the country, notably the capital Bamako" calling for the respect of international law, in particular the resolutions of the Security Council on Mali 2071 and 2085.

The delegation calls to "launch a national comprehensive political dialogue, concurrently with the military action, in such a manner as to counter the risks and unify the ranks of the national forces which do not resort to arms in policy".

Tunisia also invites the countries of the African Sahel and the Arab Maghreb to unify their efforts and their security policies to face up the threats, "especially as the Arab Maghreb countries are the most exposed to the consequences of the Malian conflict."

In another connection, Tunisia "firmly condemns" the kidnapping of Algerian citizens and foreign nationals on the southern borders of Algeria by armed terrorist groups, voicing "total solidarity" with Algeria in front of this aggression.

Before this "serious security repercussions" of the Mali crisis on all the countries of the region and on Tunisia, the statement exhorts all the national forces and the civil society "to assume their responsibilities in the fight against violence and terrorism and support the security efforts and the policies as well as the actions of cultural and religious guidance aimed to isolate the violent groups".

Answering a question on the preparations underway for facing up the possible security risks on Tunisia following the French military intervention in Mali, Mr. Rafik Abdessalem asserted that "the situation requires a great security vigilance in front of the complexity of the political and security environment in the region."

The Foreign Minister qualified the warning of the French embassy in Tunis to its nationals published in its website, "of an ordinary measure".

The French Embassy had called, on Wednesday, its nationals "to vigilance" because of the French military intervention in Mali writing in this sense "in the context of the French Military intervention in Mali, the French nationals are invited to a particular vigilance."

It also adds: "it is to be reminded that any travel in the Tunisian southern desert is to be avoided."

The security and Military devices have undertaken measures aimed to "guarantee the protection of the French representation in Tunisia, its institutions and its nationals," ensured Mr. Abdessalem.

For his part, the Interior Minister said that "the Tunisian authorities strive to protect the country and the foreign nationals on its territory."

"It is normal to be concerned by the security situation in the country. No country is immune to security risks that could happen in most democratic countries in the world," he said.

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