Tunisia’s Kais Saied intensifies crackdown on opposition, arrests Ennahda leader

Tunisia’s Kais Saied intensifies crackdown on opposition, arrests Ennahda leader

Tunisia under Kais Saied is backpedaling to autocracy as the president continues his crackdown on the opposition, arresting leader of Ennahda opposition party Rached Ghannouchi.

Tunisian authorities also raided the headquarters of the party as part of power-consolidation by a president that disbanded the parliament and tailored a new constitution fostering his power grab, while weakening checks and balances.

“Ennahdha denounces this extremely serious development and calls for the immediate release of Rached Ghannouchi,” Ennahda said in a statement.

His arrest came after he warned that Tunisia could plunge into a civil war if the president maintains his crackdown on the left and the Islamist opposition groups.

Since early February, Saied has sent at least 20 prominent opposition politicians behind bars using bogus charges. The move triggered condemnation from rights groups.

Ghannouchi was the speaker of Tunisia’s parliament before Saied dissolved the institution and went on to seize wide-reaching powers through a series of moves opponents have dubbed a “coup”.

Previously, Ghannouchi was questioned by the Police then released. He had already been in court last November over allegations his party had helped jihadists travel to Iraq and Syria.

The crackdown on the opposition takes place as Tunisia’s economic outlook darkens on the back of dysfunctional state finances, failed talks with the IMF and prospects for a surge of unemployment.

Western leaders are already warning of Tunisia’s economic collapse. EU foreign policy chief Joseph Borrel said Tunisia risks collapse “economically or socially” that could trigger a new flow of migrants to Europe.

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