According to relatives and lawyers, the Tunisian police arrested two prominent opposition leaders and surrounded the house of another critic of President Kais Saied.
Issam Chebbi and Chaima Aissa, leaders of the National Salvation Front, were arrested by the police on Wednesday.
During a crackdown on critics of the president, authorities also surrounded the house of Jawher Ben Mbarek.
After criticizing the president on the radio, Aissa led protests against Saied and was charged under a cybercrime law.
Police later searched Chebbi’s home after arresting him near a shopping center while he was out with his wife, family, and lawyers.
The police surrounded Ben Mbarek’s house to arrest him, but his sister and lawyers said he was not there.
Legal and necessary
In the past two weeks, more than a dozen people, including politicians, judges, and media figures, have been arrested for opposing Saied or mobilizing protests against him.
According to their lawyers, a prominent business leader with close ties to politics, a former finance minister, another former Ennahdha official, two judges, and a former diplomat were arrested on suspicion of assaulting state security.
Saied shutdown parliament in July 2021, dismissed the government, and rewrote the constitution – moves his critics called coups that destroyed the democracy created after the 2011 revolution.
State television has largely stopped broadcasting interviews with Saied’s critics since he denied a coup, saying his actions were legally necessary to save Tunisia from chaos.
The judiciary was also given ultimate authority by him last year.
Police and the interior ministry declined to comment on the arrests, but lawyers said some were accused of conspiring against state security.
He also publicly claimed that some of those arrested were responsible for food and fuel shortages attributed to a financial crisis.
The National Salvation Front coalition of opposition groups that has organized protests against Saied is led by Nejib Chebbi, Issam’s brother.
Ben Mbarek is also a prominent figure in the National Salvation Front, which called for Saied’s removal through street protests.
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