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Tunisia: 31,000 summoned, only 506 respond to call for military service

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Tunisian military forces [File photo]

A new bill to improve the conditions and efficiency of military service has been drafted in Tunisia by the Ministry of Defence in order to regularise the national service.

Speaking at the Committee on Security and Defence at the Assembly of People’s Representatives (APR), Minister of National Defence, Abdelkarim Zbidi, explained that the draft states that the situation of job seekers in the public and private sectors towards the national service must be regularised in advance.

According to Zbidi, out of a total of 31,000 youths summoned for military service in 2017, only 506 actually attended. The national army is reportedly unable to accommodate the large numbers of young people summoned which is around 60,000 annually.

Among the articles in the proposed bill is the reinforcement of the principle of equality between men and women within the national service and the encouragement of young people to follow vocational training as part of the national service.

There are currently ten military training centres in Tunisia which have the capacity to hold 1,500 trainees specialising in the region.

Read: Tunisia rejects NATO’s proposal to support establishment of anti-terrorism centre 

The minister further stated that in response to the Presidential Decree on the Review and Promotion of the Legislative Framework of the National Service, a commission has been established within the Ministry of Defence to organise a national consultation to examine ways to promote the legislative framework governing military service in Tunisia.

Zbidi also explained that the recommendations of a national meeting organised on this subject will insist on maintaining the compulsory nature of military service and the creation of a civil service within ministries, local authorities and public institutions.

He also expressed concern with the terror threats surrounding Tunisia in the region from neighbouring Libya with fighters “infiltrating” the country and planning operations from there.

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