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Tunisia president orders army to protect oil-rich areas

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Staff Writer | May 12, 2017
Beji Caid Essebsi
Oil exploration   President Beji Caid Essebsi

A Tunisian rights NGO held the presidency responsible for potentially involving the army in social conflict.

The NGO made the assertion after President Beji Caid Essebsi on Wednesday ordered the army to protect the country’s phosphate mines and oilfields from protest movements which he said “could disrupt production”.

At a Thursday press conference, Abderrahman Hedhili, head of the Tunisian Forum for Economic and Social Rights, warned that the president’s actions could lead to “dire consequences”.

Essebsi’s order to the army, Hedhili said, could serve to “fuel preexisting social tensions” in Tunisia.

In response to recent protests in the country’s south, Essebsi had declared that the army was ready "to protect oil-rich parts of the country".

"I know it is a serious decision,” he said. “But it’s one that must be taken.”

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