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Tunisia politicians: Ghannouchi’s sentence is a ‘new attack on opposition’

May 17, 2023 at 9:14 am

Tunisia’s Ennahdha Islamist Party Leader Rached Ghannouchi [FETHI BELAID/AFP via Getty Images]

Tunisian politicians have slammed the prison sentence issued against the head of the Ennahda movement and opposition leader, Rached Ghannouchi, considering it a “continuation of President Kais Saied’s attack on opponents of his coup and putting pressure on them.”

On Monday, a Tunisian judge sentenced Ghannouchi, the former parliament speaker, to one year in prison and fined him 1,000 dinar ($325) for “incitement”.

Remarking on the ruling, Ghannouchi’s political adviser, Riyad Al-Shuaibi, said the ruling represents a continuation of the policy of “harassment” practised by the regime against Ghannouchi and the Ennahda movement, adding that the movement and its leaders are paying the price for their political position opposing the coup and demanding a “return to democracy”.

“It is clear that the authority’s policy is to strike the opposition in order to weaken it, because the forces opposing the coup have proven that their approach is correct, given that what has happened on July 25, 2021 was not a correction of the democratic path, but rather a coup against it,” he added.

READ: Tunisia: detained Ennahda leader begins hunger strike

Al-Shuaibi stressed that Ghannouchi’s absence from the movement did not create an organisational vacuum, given that the movement’s deputy head, Monther Al-Wanisi, assumed the powers and duties of the president and is carrying out his duties.

“We will follow up on the status of the head of the movement, as well as the movement’s closed headquarters, and based on that, and on the legal status of the movement, we will determine the next legal procedures,” he added.

The only thing that could weaken the opposition, he added, is its “wrong position” and not the number of detainees, adding that the “correct political position is what gives it strength.”

Taking to Facebook, Ennahda’s official spokesman, Imad Al-Khamiri, said Ghannouchi’s imprisonment on “baseless charges” is “proof that the authority was unable to prove any material criminal acts against him and all the arrested politicians.”

“The policy of intimidation by arrest or imprisonment is a failed policy that has been tried before. It is the authority’s sanctuary in the face of its failure to manage economic affairs, and address the suffocating financial and social crisis that the country is passing through,” he said.

Abdul Latif Al-Makki, Secretary-General of the Labour and Achievement Party, said the ruling against Ghannouchi “is targeting everyone”, not just the Ennahda leader.

“The problem is not in the details like the length of Ghannouchi’s prison sentence, because after seizing control of the judiciary, everyone has become a target, including politicians, trade unionists, media professionals, and even some defence lawyers. Therefore everyone who raises his/her voice is targeted,” he said.

READ: Tunisia: Ghannouchi handed 1 year prison term for incitement