Tunisia. Calls multiply for the release of the detained head of Ennahdha | News


Ennahdha vice president Bhiri was arrested in the capital on Friday by plainclothes officers.

Calls have multiplied to know the whereabouts of the detained Tunisian politician Noureddine Bhiri, leader of the Ennahdha party, the most important in the suspended parliament of this North African country.

Plainclothes agents arrested Bhiri, a former justice minister and vice-president of Ennahdha, in the capital Tunis on Friday.

Tunisia’s independent national organization for the prevention of torture (INPT) said authorities had not provided any information about Bhiri or Fathi Baldi, a former interior ministry official who was also questioned on Friday.

INPT chairman Fathi al-Jarray said there had been “no response” from the Interior Ministry to requests for information on the two men.

Ennahdha had played a central role in the country’s politics until President Kais Saied took power in July.

Tunisia was the only democracy to emerge from the Arab Spring uprisings 10 years ago, but civil society groups and opponents of Saied have expressed fears of a return to authoritarianism a decade after the revolution that took hold. overthrown longtime strongman Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.

Lawyer and INPT official Lotfi Ezzedine told AFP news agency that some people had been placed under house arrest over the summer, but “it’s even worse because we don’t even know where they are held “.

Bhiri and Baldi were “not in an official detention center, neither at home nor in a police station,” he said, accusing the couple’s location was “withheld.”

On July 25 last year, Saied sacked the Ennahdha-backed government and suspended parliament, posing as the ultimate interpreter of the constitution.

He then took steps to rule by decree and, in early December, pledged to continue with reforms of the political system. Critics denounced his move as a coup.

The president has defended his takeover as the only way to end government paralysis after years of political wrangling and economic stagnation.

He promised to defend the rights and freedoms acquired during the 2011 revolution.

“Dangerous previous”

On Friday, Ennahdha said authorities were questioning Bhiri and denouncing “a kidnapping and a dangerous precedent marking the entry of the country into a tunnel leading to dictatorship.”

Ezzedine of the INPT said the Interior Ministry ordered the two men to be remanded in custody without prosecution because they allegedly presented “a danger to public order”.

They were unable to communicate with their families or lawyers or receive visits, he said, calling their detention “unconstitutional”.

Ennahdha party lawmaker Habib Khedher said Interior Minister Taoufik Charfeddine refused to meet with representatives of Bhiri’s defense committee on Saturday.

He said that Bhiri’s wife, Saida Akremi, and the head of the National Bar Association had requested a meeting to check on the state of health of Bhiri, who suffers from several chronic illnesses.

In addition, former President Moncef Marzouki on Saturday accused the Tunisian authorities of having violently attacked his brother.

A Tunisian court had, at the end of December, sentenced Marzouki, a critic of President Saïd’s seizure of power, in absentia to four years in prison for “undermining” state security.

Marzouki dismissed the decision as illegal, telling Al Jazeera at the time that it was “issued by an illegitimate president who overturned the constitution.”

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