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Tunisia: Ennahda leader Bhiri accuses president of assassination attempt

Vice president of Tunisia's Nahdha party Noureddine Bhiri in Tunis on 9 December 2021 [FETHI BELAID/AFP/Getty Images]
Vice president of Tunisia's Ennahda party Noureddine Bhiri in Tunis on 9 December 2021 [FETHI BELAID/AFP/Getty Images]

Leader of the Ennahda Movement Noureddine Bhiri on Friday accused Tunisian President Kais Saied and Minister of Interior Taoufik Charfeddine of "attempting to assassinate" him.

On 31 December, 2021, the Tunisian authorities placed Bhiri under house arrest on suspicion of his "involvement in a serious threat to public security" before releasing him on 8 March.

The leader of the Ennahda Movement revealed in a press conference in the capital that he: "Has filed sixteen cases against President Saied and Minister of Interior Charfeddine (..) because they incited against me and defamed me to pave the way to assassinate me."

In the press conference, Bhiri added that he recently filed a case against the minister of interior and the Governor of Bizerte Samir Abdellaoui due: "To forming a coalition for assaulting people, seizure property, kidnapping, forcible detention and attempting of assassination."

"Three cars surrounded the place of my detention to attack me and my wife, where the kidnappers abused us and stole our mobile phones and car keys. Then they pushed me into a four-wheel-drive car and took me to the highway," Bhiri added.

Bhiri elaborated: "I do not know to which agency the people who kidnapped me belong. Do they belong to the security services? Or affiliated with the Popular Mobilisation Forces that people are talking about? The decision of house arrest does not require assaulting people with violence. If they had informed me, I would have complied."

Bhiri added: "It is clear from facts and incidents that the intention was an attempt to assassinate me, but the plan was exposed," noting that: "No charges were brought against me. Those who arrested me did not obtain even a traffic violation."

READ: What's next for Tunisia after release of Ennahda official?

"We have struggled for our freedoms for years. Freedom was not granted to us, we are not ready to waive it, and we are ready for all kinds of sacrifices and peaceful struggle," Bhiri disclosed in the press conference.

Although Tunisian authorities did not issue an immediate comment on the accusations, they usually deny these accusations and affirm their commitment to freedoms and rights.

Bhiri's speech comes at a time when the assistant of the speaker of the (dissolved) Tunisian Parliament Maher Medhioub announced on Friday that he had submitted a complaint to the Inter-Parliamentary Union against President Saied for his: "Arbitrary decision to abolish and nullify a parliamentary mandate."

This came according to a lengthy complaint against Saied on his Facebook account, addressed to the presidency of the Human Rights Committee of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (based in Geneva).

According to Medhioub: "The complaint submitted to the Inter-Parliamentary Union against President Saied was due to his nullifying of elections and abolition of a parliamentary mandate on an arbitrary basis." Saied says, however, that the dissolution of Parliament came: "To preserve the state and its institutions."

Medhioub also explained: "The complaint was submitted due to the president's leading of threats and incitement against the deputies, and his commencement of preliminary procedures to prosecute more than 120 deputies on charges that carry the death penalty."

Earlier on Friday, Parliament Speaker Rached Ghannouchi's office announced that he and dozens of deputies had been summoned to appear before the Anti-Terrorism Investigation Unit.

In a virtual session, Parliament approved a law abolishing the exceptional measures that President Saied imposed on 25 July, 2021, including freezing Parliament's powers, issuing legislation by presidential decrees and dissolving the Supreme Judicial Council.

However, hours later, Saied announced the dissolution of Parliament: "In order to preserve the state and its institutions." He considered the Parliament meeting and what was issued by it as a "failed coup attempt".

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