Tunisia protesters demand 'political' prisoners' freedom

Tunisia protesters demand 'political' prisoners' freedom
2 min read
Tunisians protested on Sunday to demand the release of critics of President Kais Saied.
Tunisia has seen an increasing crackdown on critics of President Kais Saied [Getty/archive]

Hundreds of supporters of Tunisia's main opposition coalition on Sunday rallied to demand freedom for about 20 detained personalities and opponents of President Kais Saied.

Up to 300 protesters, many carrying photographs of what they called the "political prisoners," gathered in the centre of Tunis in defence of the former ministers, business figures and others held since February.

In March the European Parliament, in a non-binding resolution, decried the "authoritarian drift" of Saied, who says those detained were "terrorists" involved in a "conspiracy against state security".

Tunisia was the only democracy to emerge from the Arab Spring uprisings in the region more than a decade ago, but Saied in July 2021 suspended, then later dissolved, parliament as part of a power-grab allowing him to rule by decree.

His critics have slammed his moves a coup.

"Freedom! Freedom!" the protesters chanted, also demanding an election ahead of the scheduled October 2024 date.

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Among those detained is Rached Ghannouchi, head of the Islamist-inspired Ennahda party which was the largest in parliament before Saied's power grab.

"They are imprisoned because they exercised their legitimate right to dissent," Ahmed Nejib Chebbi, who heads the National Salvation Front opposition coalition, told the protesters.

On Friday counter-terrorism officers questioned Ghannouchi for three hours as part of an investigation into claims of a "plot against state security".