European Union disburses 300 million euro loan to Tunisia

European Union flags fly outside the European Commission headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, April 10, 2019. REUTERS/Yves Herman

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TUNIS, May 25 (Reuters) – The European Union said on Wednesday it had disbursed a 300 million euro ($319.74 million) loan to Tunisia, at a time when the North African country is struggling with a financial crisis.

This is the first significant Western financial aid to Tunisia since President Kais Saied took control last summer, dissolved parliament and started ruling by decree in a move described by the opposition as a coup.

The EU said in a statement that the loan will help Tunisia to reduce the burden on the budget and implement major reforms.

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Tunisia’s Western allies require an inclusive political dialogue and the rapid return of democratic institutions to support Tunisia.

The EU said that this macro-financial assistance is to “support the Tunisian people”.

“The EU remains determined to support Tunisia on the path to economic reform and full respect for the democratic gains and this includes an inclusive political transition”, it added.

Saied’s moves have thrust Tunisia into its biggest political crisis since the 2011 revolution that introduced democracy and triggered the ‘Arab Spring’, threatening the rights and freedoms won 11 years ago.

He has replaced a judicial council that guaranteed judges’ independence as well as the independent electoral commission, casting doubt on the integrity of both the legal process and of elections.

($1 = 0.9383 euros)

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Reporting by Tarek Amara; Editing by Frank Jack Daniel, Alexandra Hudson

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