Meanwhile, The administration of President Barack Obama has
decided to help Tunisia's military.
Officials said the Defense Department has won approval of a plan to send
more than $20 million to help Tunisia's military. They said the U.S.
assistance was meant to bolster North African security in wake of the ouster
of Tunisian President Zine Al Abidine Bin Ali in February.
"This aid is meant to show U.S. support for democratic change," an
At a news conference on Sept. 6, Essebsi said police interference marked
a threat to national security. He cited the arrest of 23 officers charged
with killing anti-government protesters.
Tensions have risen between the police and the army. Officers have been
demonstrating against both the military and government and called for the
resignation of Chief of Staff Gen. Rachid Amar and Interior Minister Habib
The trial of the 23 officers, charged with killing protesters in
December 2010 and January 2011, was part of the unrest that led to the
ouster of President Zine El Abidine Bin Ali. Police said 10 officers were
killed and 18 injured on Jan. 14, when Bin Ali tried to flee Tunisia.
Over the last two months, violent clashes between police and protesters
have renewed in Tunisia. At least two people were killed and dozens injured
in riots in several cities.
Officials said the violence was expected to heighten over the next few
weeks during the campaign for parliamentary elections on Oct. 23.
They said the government would maintain a curfew in at least three cities as
well as ban all demonstrations and labor strikes.
"The government will see the law applied," Essebsi said. "The interior
minister has the right to place under house arrest any person known for
activities affecting internal security."
The U.S. aid was designed to upgrade the Tunisian Navy, particularly its
ability to patrol territorial waters. Officials said the aid would
enable Tunis to purchase U.S. surplus patrol boats to intercept suspected Al
Qaida boats and illegal migrants from North Africa to Europe.
The Pentagon proposal also called for the modernization of U.S.-origin
radars and helicopters for the Tunisian Army and Air Force. Officials said
Tunisia would also receive additional training as well as tactical ground
Officials said the Pentagon has approved U.S. military aid to a range of
allies, including Malta and European states. They said some of the money
allocated to Yemen's military could be diverted to Tunisia.
"Yemen is not sufficiently stable to receive additional U.S. aid," the