Qatar lends Tunisia $500 million

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Tunis - Tunisia's Central Bank said Thursday it had finalised a loan of half a billion dollars from Qatar, one of the main foreign backers of the revolution that brought the Islamists to power.

The central bank said in a statement that the loan - at an interest rate of 2.5% - was to be repaid all at once in five years.

The Ennahda party won October polls that capped a popular revolt that ousted longtime president Zine el Abidine Ben Ali nine months earlier and sparked the so-called Arab Spring.

The moderate Islamist party has excellent relations with Qatar and the coalition government it leads was also recently extended a $500-million credit line by Turkey.

The government is due to submit its economic programme to the constituent assembly, amid crippling unemployment and widespread disillusionment over post-revolution Tunisia. - Sapa-AFP

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