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Tunisia: arrest campaign targets Ennahda leaders

February 14, 2023 at 3:00 pm

Demonstrators holding placards and banners gather to show their support for lawyer and former Member of Parliament (MP) Seif Eddine Makhlouf, who was tried and sentenced in a military court outside the Military Court in Tunis, Tunisia [Yassine Gaidi – Anadolu Agency]

The wave of arrests in Tunisia of well-known politicians and public figures continued yesterday with the arrest of senior Ennahda Movement official Noureddine Al-Behairi, as well as the general director of the private radio station Mosaique FM, Noureddine Boutar.

The movement condemned the “systematic abuse of opponents by the authority of President Kais Saied”. The Tunisian authorities did not comment on the arrests or respond to requests for a comment. Since Saied seized total control of Tunisia’s legislature, judiciary and security in July 2021, many politicians have faced legal measures that have been denounced by the opposition and described as a settling of political scores.

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“Al-Behairi was arrested when security forces raided his house,” Ennahda spokesman Sami Tariki told AFP. He did not mention any reasons given for the arrest on the outskirts of the capital, Tunis. The Ennahda official, 64, was arrested last year as part of investigations due to “suspicion of terrorism” but he was later released.

Mosaique FM announced on its website that a security unit had searched Boutar’s house on Monday and arrested him. Again, no reason was given for the move.

Tunisia’s security services arrested businessman Kamal Latif earlier. He has a lot of influence in political circles, and for a long time was very close to the late President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. Other political activists and judges have also been arrested.

“The coup authority has increased its abuse of opposition figures and every free voice, including trade unionists, media professionals and businessmen,” said Ennahda. “This is evidence of its confusion and inability to confront the crises that it has created.”

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