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Tunisia president threatens Moncef Marzouki with travel ban

Former Tunisian President Moncef Marzouki holds a press conference in Tunis, Tunisia on 15 May 2017 [Nacer Talel/Anadolu Agency]

Tunisian President Kais Saied yesterday launched an attack on his predecessor and threatened to withdraw his diplomatic passport and ban him from travel.

Amnesty International has monitored the Tunisian authorities' imposition of an "arbitrary travel ban" on more than 50 citizens since last July.

Saied denounced some politicians abroad "conspiring" against the internal and external security of the state.

He said, in the first meeting of the members of the new government, that was formed on Monday: "Tunisia is a free and independent country and there is no room for interference in its affairs. Some went abroad to seek help to strike Tunisian interests."

He added, without naming the former official he was referring to, "I say it today. The one who did this will be deprived of his diplomatic passport because he is among the enemies of Tunisia." It is believed Saied was making reference to statements made by former President Moncef Marzouki, who considers Saied's decision to suspend government on 25 July a "coup" and who described Saied as a "dictator".

READ: Marzouki calls on the Tunisia army to abandon President Saied

In a speech at a demonstration last Saturday in Paris, Marzouki called on the "French government" not to "support this regime and this man (Kais Saied) who is plotting against the revolution and seeking to abolish the constitution," according to a video he posted on Facebook.

Saied stressed: "There is no room for him to be able to obtain this privilege [the diplomatic passport] while he roams the capitals to harm Tunisia," and stressed, "We will not accept that our sovereignty be placed on the table of foreign negotiations."

Saied also asked "the Minister of Justice to open a judicial investigation into this issue, because there is no room for conspiracy against the internal or external security of the state," and explained, "Whoever conspires against it abroad should be charged with conspiring against state security."

On 25 July, Tunisian President Kais Saied cited Article 80 of the constitution to dismiss Prime Minister Hicham Mechichi, freeze the work of parliament for 30 days, lift the immunity of ministers, and appoint himself as head of the executive authority until the formation of a new government.

This comes after violent protests broke out in several Tunisian cities criticising the government's handling of the economy and the coronavirus. Demonstrators had called for parliament to be dissolved.

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

Saied appointed a prime minister on 29 September a new government has since been formed.

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