Tunisia opposition party Ennahdha says its chief arrested

AFP , Monday 17 Apr 2023

Rached Ghannouchi, one of the main opponents of Tunisian President Kais Saied, has been arrested, his Ennahdha party said on Monday, the latest in a string of opposition arrests.

Tunisia Ghannouchi
File photo: In this file photo taken on February 21, 2023 the head of Tunisia s Islamist movement Ennahdha Rached Ghannouchi arrives at a police station in Tunis. AFP


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," 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.

It came after 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, businessmen, trade unionists and the owner of Tunisia's most popular radio station, Mosaique FM.

Saied, 65, claims those detained were terrorists and posed a threat to 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-reaching powers through a series of moves dubbed by opponents as a "coup".

He also appeared in court at the end of February on terror-related charges after being accused of calling police officers "tyrants".

And 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.

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

*This story was edited by Ahram Online

Short link: