May 30, 2023

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Tunisia rejects criticism after Ghannouchi’s arrest

Tunisia strongly rejected concerns expressed in Europe, particularly after the arrest of Islamist dissident Rached Ghannouchi, describing them as “unacceptable”.

The head of the Islamic-conservative Ennahda party and former Speaker of Parliament, Mr. Ghannouchi, 81, is the most prominent dissident arrested in Tunisia since the July 2021 coup of President Qais Saied, who seized full power.

He was arrested on Monday after statements he said threatened “civil war” if left-wing parties or political Islamists like Ennahda were removed from Tunisia.

Tunisia’s main partner, the European Union, said on Tuesday that Mr. It said it was following “recent developments with great concern” in the country, citing Khannuchi’s arrest and the closure of his party’s premises. The European Union underlined the “fundamental principle of political pluralism”.

For its part, France noted that the arrest was “part of a worrying wave of arrests”, recalling “freedom of expression and respect for the rule of law”.

For the US, the arrests represent an “alarming escalation”. “The arrest of opponents and critics of the Tunisian government is fundamentally inconsistent with the principles Tunisians have embraced in the constitution, which expressly guarantees freedom of expression, thought and expression,” US State Department spokesman Vedant Patel said Wednesday.

The Tunisian Foreign Ministry said in a press release issued Wednesday evening, reacting to the French and European announcements, that “the laws of the Republic apply to all prosecutors without exception and with all legal guarantees” and that “justice will operate peacefully and peacefully.” affected by waves of inappropriate and unacceptable comments”.

These comments, he said, “will only undermine the country’s serious efforts to repair its economic and financial situation under a huge crisis due to bad governance and amateurism in the last decade”. Kannuchi played an important political role.

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The ministry did not explain the link between the concerns expressed about the rule of law and freedom in the country and its economic situation. “These communications constitute an unacceptable interference in Tunisia’s internal affairs, although the parties are ignorant of the country’s realities”, the Tunisian ministry also reiterated “the importance of restarting the Tunisian economy in the best possible conditions”.

Tunisia is experiencing a serious political-economic crisis, which is pushing many Tunisians to risk their lives and try to reach Europe illegally by sea.