Tunisia - Opposition party leader is latest critic of Tunisian president to be arrested

Tunisia - Opposition party leader is latest critic of Tunisian president to be arrested

Rached Ghannouchi ,Ennahdha party

Ennahdha party’s Rached Ghannouchi, 81, is at least the 20th person to be held in recent months in crackdown by Kais Saied

Rached Ghannouchi, the leader of the Ennahda political party and one of the main opponents of the Tunisian president, Kais Saied, has been arrested, the latest in a string of opposition figures held.

Ghannouchi, 81, whose party was the largest in parliament before Saied dissolved the chamber in July 2021, was arrested by police at his Tunis home and taken “to an unknown location”, the Islamist-inspired Ennahdha said in a statement.

“Ennahdha denounces this extremely serious development and calls for the immediate release of Rached Ghannouchi,” the statement added.

Tunisian authorities did not immediately comment on the arrest.

The arrest followed media reports in which he allegedly said Tunisia would be threatened with “civil war” if political Islam, from which his party originated, were eradicated there.

Since early February, authorities in the north African country have arrested more than 20 political opponents and personalities. They have included politicians, former ministers, business people, trade unionists and the owner of Tunisia’s most popular radio station, Mosaique FM.

Saied, 65, claims those detained were “terrorists” involved in a “conspiracy against state security”.

Local and international rights groups have criticised the arrests.

Ghannouchi was the speaker of Tunisia’s parliament before Saied dissolved it and went on to seize wide-ranging powers through a series of moves described by opponents as a “coup”.

He appeared in court at the end of February on terror-related charges after being accused of calling police officers “tyrants”. He had already been in court last November over allegations that his party had helped jihadists travel to Iraq and Syria. Prior to that he was interrogated over alleged money laundering in relation to foreign donations for an Ennahdha-linked charity.

Opponents of Saied accuse him of reinstating autocratic rule in Tunisia, which was the only democracy to emerge from the Arab spring uprisings in the Middle East more than a decade ago.

After his dramatic power grab he has since ruled by decree, and last year rammed through a constitution giving his office unlimited powers and neutering parliament.

Ghannouchi was exiled for more than two decades under the late dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, but had returned after the country’s 2011 uprising to become a dominant figure in Tunisian politics.

Ennahdha played a central role in Tunisia’s post-Ben Ali democratic politics until Saied began his power grab.

the guardian

Previous Post Next Post