Tunisia’s opposition party chief arrested

Rached Ghannouchi, a leading opponent of Tunisian President Kais Saied, has been detained, according to his political party Ennahdha. The 81-year-old Ghannouchi, the Tunisia’s opposition party chief, was arrested at his home in Tunis and taken to an undisclosed location. Ennahdha was the largest in parliament before it was dissolved by Saied in July 2021.

Ennahdha has condemned the move and called for his immediate release. Tunisian authorities have not commented on the arrest. Ghannouchi’s detention came after he reportedly warned that Tunisia could be plunged into “civil war” if political Islam, from which his party originated, were eradicated there.

Since February, over 20 opposition figures have been arrested by the authorities, including politicians, former ministers, businessmen, trade unionists and a radio station owner.

Saied has described those detained as “terrorists” involved in a “conspiracy against state security”, a claim that has been criticised by local and international rights groups.

Saied seized most powers in 2021, shutting down parliament, appointing a new government, and ruling by decree, moves he said were necessary to end years of chaos and rampant corruption among the political elite. He has blamed Tunisia’s economic problems on corruption and rejected what he sees as foreign interference.