Tunisia Arrests a Leading Opposition Figure

Tunisian authorities have arrested a distinguished opposition chief and three different officers from his celebration in an escalation of President Kais Saied’s marketing campaign towards political opponents, which started after he seized full energy over the North African nation almost two years in the past.

The arrest Monday night focused Rachid al-Ghannouchi, the chief of the Ennahda celebration, which dominated Tunisia’s Parliament for years through the nation’s short-lived democratic experiment, changing into deeply unpopular for its Islamist views and missteps whereas in energy. That unpopularity has made Ennahda a handy goal of Mr. Saied’s marketing campaign towards the political institution, with Mr. al-Ghannouchi probably the most distinguished of his political opponents to be focused up to now.

Ennahda stated about 100 plainclothes law enforcement officials raided and searched Mr. al-Ghannouchi’s residence within the capital, Tunis, taking him and one other celebration member to a army barracks. The authorities then raided Ennahda’s Tunis headquarters, arresting two different distinguished celebration officers, and searched the house of Mr. al-Ghannouchi’s daughter, in response to Ennahda and Tunisian prosecutors.

“The Ennahda Movement condemns this very dangerous development and demands the immediate release” of Mr. al-Ghannouchi, the celebration stated in a press release posted on Mr. al-Ghannouchi’s Facebook web page. “It also calls on all liberals to stand together in the face of these oppressive practices.”

Tunisia was the one nation to emerge from the wave of Arab Spring rebellion in 2011 as a brand new democracy, an experiment that endured for a couple of decade. But its progress unraveled when Mr. Saied, who had been elected as a political outsider in 2019, established one-man rule in 2021 by suspending the nation’s highly effective, Ennahda-led Parliament.

Since mid-February, dealing with intensifying unpopularity over a looming financial collapse, Mr. Saied has ramped up his repression of dissent, arresting at the least two dozen opposition politicians, journalists, activists, judges and others in what analysts stated was an try and distract from his personal errors and deflect blame for Tunisia’s deteriorating state of affairs.

He additionally lately appointed a hard-line new minister of the inside, who ordered Monday’s crackdown on Ennahda.

The newest developments had the makings of a concerted offensive towards Ennahda and its foremost opposition companion, an anti-Saied coalition generally known as the National Salvation Front.

Mr. al-Ghannouchi and his celebration have been amongst Mr. Saied’s foremost antagonists since Tunisians embraced the president’s energy seize partly as a result of they detested Ennahda: The celebration had been an necessary participant in authorities, if not in outright management, since Tunisians overthrew their longtime autocratic ruler, Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, within the 2011 revolution.

“This is a, if not the, biggest slice of red meat that many of Saied’s initial supporters — including some in U.G.T.T. — had wanted,” stated Monica Marks, an assistant professor of Middle East politics at New York University Abu Dhabi who research Tunisia, utilizing the initials of Tunisia’s highly effective normal labor union. “But it by no means solves his problems on the socioeconomic front.”

Mr. Saied’s safety companies have detained and questioned Mr. al-Ghannouchi, who’s in his 80s, a number of instances over the past two years. But this was the primary time he had been arrested with out warning.

The arrest got here after Mr. al-Ghannouchi stated in a gathering on Saturday that excluding the opposition from Tunisian politics, together with Ennahda, risked beginning a “civil war,” a phrase he used repeatedly. The authorities pounced on his phrases to cost him with incitement, saying in a press release that that they had been approved to take action beneath the nation’s antiterrorism regulation.

Ennahda’s assertion outlined a sequence of what the celebration known as violations of fundamental authorized process through the raids. Security personnel had barred Mr. al-Ghannouchi’s attorneys from attending the search of his home or his interrogation, it stated, and Mr. al-Ghannouchi was refusing to talk and not using a lawyer current.

Even so, it stated, investigators had saved him sitting within the interrogation room all evening, refusing to permit him to make use of the toilet except the door was saved open.

Though reasonable in contrast with different Islamist actions within the Middle East, Ennahda’s non secular orientation spooked many Tunisians who feared it could undo the nation’s secular values and freedoms. It didn’t assist that Mr. Ben Ali’s authorities had demonized Ennahda for years earlier than the 2011 revolution.

Ennahda’s dominance in authorities — Mr. al-Ghannouchi was the speaker of Parliament earlier than it was dissolved, and Ennahda figures recurrently served as prime minister or in cupboard — meant it was intently related, pretty or not, with the incompetence and corruption that plagued Tunisia’s post-revolution governments. The celebration was additionally blamed by many for these governments’ failure to ship the financial prosperity Tunisians had demanded through the rebellion.

The financial issues that had been constructing for the final decade have culminated over the past 12 months in an enormous disaster compounded by the worst drought in years. Inflation is emptying Tunisians’ wallets; fundamental items equivalent to oil, sugar and occasional have disappeared from grocery store cabinets. Migration to Europe from Tunisia has surged.

Yet Mr. Saied has appeared extra focused on overhauling the nation’s political system than in rescuing the economic system, ramming via a brand new Constitution he drafted that concentrates energy within the president’s fingers and neutralizes Parliament.

That has led some Tunisians to show towards him. But for a lot of, the good worry that Ennahda, or an opposition coalition together with it, will return to energy in Mr. Saied’s stead, has saved them from embracing his opponents.

Source web site: www.nytimes.com

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