Tunisia celebrates army’s 55th anniversary


The Tunisian army celebrated the 55th anniversary of its creation on Saturday with an official military parade on Kasbah Square in the capital, while the President decorated and promoted a number of soldiers.

The Tunisian Ministry of Defence said that President Fouad Mebazaa, supreme commander of the armed forces, reviewed the guard of honour participating in the occasion, and presented a group of promoted soldiers with their new stripes and decorated another group with military insignia.

National Defence Minister Abdelkarim Zbidi announced during the ceremony that, in order to improve the quality of life of the armed forces, the government would be opening a military clinic, modernising the transport fleet and distributing land for the armed forces.

The celebration is the first of its kind since the revolution in January that deposed strongman Ben Ali. During that period the army was reluctant to fire upon demonstrators, something that was pivotal to the success of the revolution.

Mebazaa said the army has a strong role to play in the delicate period after the revolution and is a contributor towards maintaining public order, protecting citizens and preserving the spirit of the revolution.

Mebazaa noted the humanitarian role the armed forces played along the border with Libya when refugees started pouring across following the uprising against Muammar Gaddafi.

Some of the dignitaries that attended the celebrations included Beji Caid Essebsi, Prime Minister of the Transitional Government, members of the government and senior members of the armed forces. Other figures present included district governors and general secretaries of political parties.

As part of the 55th anniversary celebrations, Abdelkarim Zbid, Minister of National Defence, and General Rashid Ammar, Chief of Defence Staff, on Friday inaugurated an army outpost at Bir Mehdet. The minister outlined the importance of the outpost’s role in border control and the protection of Tunisian territory.

The outpost is one of the most advanced Sahara outposts in southern Tunisia. Built on an area of 477 square meters, with a budget of almost 204 000 dinars, it is located 50 kilometres south of Faouar.

Tunisa is in the midst of rebuilding its government following the tumultuous removal of Ben Ali earlier in the year. The celebrations are a sign that the president is trying to cement the unity between various elements of society, particularly the important armed forces.