21 April 2014

Tunisia: Steps to Ensure Repatriation of Tunisian Hostages - PM

Photo: Fred Abrahams/Human Rights Watch
Libya has witnessed frequent kidnappings (file photo).

Carthage — Caretaker Prime Minister Mehdi Jomaa said that despite the complexity of the situation in Libya, steps are still underway to "ensure the repatriation, safe and sound, of the two Tunisian hostages kidnapped in Tripoli."

Mehdi Jomaa spoke to the media after the regular meeting of the National Security Council, held under the chairmanship of interim President of the Republic Moncef Marzouki and devoted to the examination of the files of military operation in Mount Chaambi, and the kidnapping of a diplomat and a staffer of Tunisia's embassy in Tripoli.

For the Prime Minister, the kidnapping conducted "for pressure and blackmail purposes constitutes a new form of terrorism for the management of which Tunisia has no experience." He underlined the establishment of a crisis cell for the follow-up of this affair and a device for taking care of the families of the two hostages, diplomats and Tunisian families in Libya.

Foreign Minister Mongi Hamdi said to TAP news agency that the crisis cell (made up of representatives of the Presidency of the Republic and the government, several Ministries and some concerned bodies) convenes every day to take stock of the situation of Tunisians kidnapped in Libya.

He said that he is in permanent contact with his Libyan counterpart which, he said, ensures the fact that the Libyan government has communication channels with the kidnappers so as to guarantee the security of the Tunisians. Asked on the reduction of the Tunisian diplomatic presence in Libya, he asserted that it is "an ordinary precautionary measure destined to guarantee the security of the Tunisians," specifying that the diplomatic mission "will be limited to providing services to the Tunisian community."

Hamdi also said he had requested the Libyan authorities, for two months, to ensure a sufficient protection of the Tunisian missions in Libya, announcing new security measures to bolster the protection of the embassy and the Tunisian consulates in this country. Answering a question on the video of one of the two Tunisian hostages and interpreted as an attempt of intimidation, the Foreign Minister said that "the decision of Tunisia not to yield to blackmail had been taken on the level of the Presidency of the Republic and the government." The three presidents, the Ministers of the Interior, Defence and Finance, as well as Tunisia's ambassador to Libya took part in the meeting.

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