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12 Tunisia officials suspected of corruption banned from travel

Tunisia's new President Kais Saied takes the oath of office on 23 October 2019 in Tunis after his surprise election victory over champions of the political establishment. [FETHI BELAID/AFP via Getty Images]
Tunisia's new President Kais Saied takes the oath of office on 23 October 2019 in Tunis after his surprise election victory over champions of the political establishment. [FETHI BELAID/AFP via Getty Images]

A spokesman for the judiciary in Tunisia yesterday announced that a judge decided to ban 12 officials from travelling, including a former minister and a member of parliament, due to suspicions of corruption in the transportation and extraction of phosphates.

Mohsen El-Dali, a spokesman for the economic and financial judicial office, added that the ban includes two general managers of the Gafsa Phosphate Company (CPG) and a businessman who controls the transportation of phosphates.

President Kais Saied said recently that those involved in corruption in the phosphate sector must be held accountable, and that no one should enjoy impunity.

Tunisia, which was one of the most prominent exporters of phosphate in the world before the 2011 revolution that ended the rule of former President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, has resorted lately to buying phosphate due to disruptions in the production and transportation of the substance, as a result of mass protests.

READ: Dismissed Tunisian PM Mechichi appears for first time in 11 days

Tunisia's production of phosphates reached 8.2 million tonnes in 2010, but fell to 3.1 million tonnes last year.

On Monday, the Tunisian political activist, Iskandar Rekik, confirmed in a Facebook post that he was banned from travelling, saying: "I have no legal or judicial impediments."

Rekik considered the ban "a blatant attack on personal freedom of movement and travel, and a clear violation of the 2014 constitution, the 1959 constitution, and all international covenants," adding: "I am an international expert and consultant in investment and project development, and I work with many foreign companies. I did not steal or loot anything, and this ban would prevent me from earning a livelihood for me and my family, as a flagrant violation of my personal freedom."

The political activist called on the Presidency of the Republic to lift the ban as soon as possible because it "is not compatible with the promises of President Kais Saied to the international community who pledged to preserve personal freedoms for all the Tunisians."

Is Tunisia slipping into a dangerous pitfall?- Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]

Is Tunisia slipping into a dangerous pitfall?- Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]

On Sunday 25 July, the Tunisian President announced that he had decided to freeze the work of Parliament, lift the immunity of all deputies, take over the Public Prosecution office, and dismiss Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi following the eruption of protests in several cities.

Saied added that he would take over the executive authority with the help of a new prime minister whose name has not been announced. Justifying the measures as being necessary in order to "save Tunisia".

The majority of the country's political parties slammed the move as a "coup against the constitution" and the achievements of the 2011 revolution.

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