24 Feb. (EUROPA PRESS) –
Tunisian security forces have detained prominent opposition figure Yauar ben Mbarek, leader of the Citizens Against the Coup movement and a senior official of the National Salvation Front, the main opposition coalition against the country’s president, Kais Saied.
According to information collected by the Tunisian station Mosaique FM, Ben Mbarek has been arrested in the capital for allegedly organizing a “gang” to carry out “a plot against state security”, amid increased repression against opposition.
In recent weeks, nearly 20 opposition figures and journalists have been detained, a campaign of repression criticized by the international community and in the face of what is denounced as an authoritarian drift by Saied, who in July 2021 arrogated all powers after dissolving the Government and suspend Parliament, later dissolved.
In this context, the non-governmental organization Human Rights Watch (HRW) has denounced this Friday that these arrests are part of the largest campaign of arrests since July 2021, a period in which the Tunisian president has promoted a series of reforms, including a modification of the Constitution and some legislative ones that have had a participation in historical lows.
Saied described the detainees on February 14 as “terrorists” and “traitors” and claimed they were part of “a conspiracy against internal and external security” even before they were charged by the courts, undermining the presumption of innocence, as HRW recalled.
“After taking charge of the Prosecutor’s Office and dismissing judges, Saied is now going after his critics with total abandon,” lamented the director of HRW in Tunisia, Salsabil Chelali. “Saied calls them a terrorist and regardless of the fact of presenting some type of credible evidence,” she criticized.
For this reason, he has outlined that “the message of these arrests is that, if you dare to speak, the president will have you arrested and will publicly denounce you while his henchmen prepare a case against you based on statements you made or with whom you met “.
The opposition, mostly united around the National Salvation Front, which includes the Islamist party Ennahda -which had the majority in the suspended Parliament in July 2021-, has denounced an authoritarian drift of the president and has demanded his resignation, especially after his call for a boycott in the December and January legislatures resulted in a participation rate close to ten percent.