In Tunisia, opponent Rached Ghannouchi on hunger strike

Rached Ghannouchi, the leader of the opposition Ennahda party, began a hunger strike on Monday February 19 to protest against the detention of opponents in Tunisia and express his support for them, his movement announced. In detention since April 17, 2023, Mr. Ghannouchi, 82 years old, “decided to go on hunger strike […] in solidarity with the [autres] prisoners on hunger strike and to support all opponents [incarcérés] in the different prisons » of the country, said the Islamo-conservative party in a press release.

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Several imprisoned political figures, including Jawhar Ben Mbarek and Issam Chebbi, leaders of the National Salvation Front (FSN, the main opposition coalition), have been on hunger strike for eight days to demand to be released. Denouncing “arbitrary, baseless prosecutions” and a desire by those in power to remove opponents from the political scene, these personalities had already led a hunger strike for several days in September. The majority of imprisoned opponents are being prosecuted for “conspiracy against state security”.

At the beginning of February, Mr. Ghannouchi, the bête noire of President Kaïs Saïed, was sentenced to three years in prison for illegal “foreign” financing of his training. On May 15, 2023, he had already been sentenced to one year in prison for “apology of terrorism” in the context of another case, a sentence increased to fifteen months on appeal in October. This verdict was pronounced following a complaint from a police union denouncing comments he made in early 2022 during the funeral of an Ennahda official whom he assured “feared neither the powerful nor the tyrants”this word designating the police officers, according to the prosecution file.

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Mr. Ghannouchi, whose party dominated governments for the past decade after the 2011 revolt that toppled the dictatorship of Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali, is the most famous opponent imprisoned since the coup by President Saïed, who full powers were granted in July 2021. Since February 2023, more than twenty opponents, businessmen and other personalities qualified as “terrorists” by Mr. Saïed were imprisoned on charges of “plot against internal security”.

The World with AFP

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