Tunis, Asharq Al-Awsat—The Tunisian National Security Council held a meeting at the presidential palace in Tunis on Saturday, following calls from Muhammad Abbou, leader of the National Party, for changes to the military and appoint a new chief of general staff in place of General Rashid Ammar.
Abbou said that “it is unreasonable that an official remain in his position after having failed in his duties.”
The council examined a series of military and security issues, following the
death of two Tunisian soldiers last week, when their vehicle hit a mine close to the town of Kasserine.
Security units revealed Friday night that two other suspects connected with the terrorists allegedly responsible for the attack had been arrested, one of whom worked in education.
The operation took place amid high levels of secrecy surrounding the investigation that led to their arrest. Search operations continue in the Ech Chambi Mountains, while military units removed the remains of the vehicle destroyed by the mine for examination.
A military source speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat said that clashes were continuing in the Ech Chambi mountains, in mid-west Tunisia.
The source also said the the council had discussed more curbs on extremists that approve of violent methods, increased border controls, and crackdowns on smuggling and unregulated trade.
The National Security Council is tasked with overseeing to defense, security and foreign policy.
The source reported that a National Security Council meeting was attended by the president, prime minister, and head of the Constituent Assembly. Also present were the Minister of Justice, Minister of Finance, Minister of Religious Affairs, and Minister of Defense and Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff and Director of the Presidential Security and directors-general of national security. The Tunisian President, Moncef Marzouki, chaired the session.
The Tunisian army has been in a state of emergency since January 14, 2011, due to ongoing security tensions. The operation has extended the state of emergency for an additional month, to the fourth of July. This is the twelfth time that such an extension has been made.
More than one political authority has stated that the state of emergency’s length of time, and the number of tasks assigned to the army may cause attrition, which would lead to a decreased efficiency of the military institution in pursuing renegades.