Tunis – The head of Tunisia’s dissolved parliament is facing a new police inquiry, his Islamist-inspired Ennahdha party said on Monday, days after a string of arrests mainly targeting opposition political figures.
Rached Ghannouchi, President Kais Saied’s 81-year-old arch-rival, was ordered to appear at a police station in the capital on Tuesday, Ennahdha spokesman Imed Khemiri told journalists, calling it “a new attack on political leaders”.
Khemiri said the party “does not know the reasons for this summons, but it is part of an enquiry after a complaint was lodged by an unknown person”.
A party official who asked not to be named said the complaint came from a member of Tunisia’s powerful police unions, who “claimed to have a recording of a telephone call” involving Ghannouchi.
The latest in a string of legal woes facing Ghannouchi comes a year and a half after Saied launched a dramatic power grab in the birthplace of the Arab Spring, freezing and later scrapping the legislature Ghannouchi headed.
Several prominent Saied critics have since faced trial in military courts and the president’s rivals have accused him of trying to reinstall one-man rule, over a decade after the pro-democracy revolt that toppled dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.
Many of the enquiries have targeted Ennahdha, which has been a major political force in Tunisia’s parliament and most governments since the 2011 revolution.
Ghannouchi was questioned by an anti-terror judge in November over alleged involvement in helping Tunisians travelling to fight for jihadist groups in Iraq and Syria.
Prior to that he was interrogated over alleged money laundering in relation to foreign donations for an Ennahdha-linked charity.
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Zeineb Brahmi, the party’s legal chief, quipped that “we don’t know whether the investigation this time will be over plotting against state security, financial corruption or ‘terrorism'”.
Khemiri accused authorities of “harassing” Saied’s rivals saying it had become “very easy” for authorities to prosecute politicians.
“All it needs is a complaint to be lodged for the police to open an investigation, with zero verification of its basis,” he said.
At least 10 public figures have been arrested in the past 10 days, mainly critics of Saied, including members of Ennahdha and the head of a major private radio station.