×

We've got news for you.

Register on BusinessLIVE at no cost to receive newsletters, read exclusive articles & more.
Register now
Moncef Marzouki. Picture: BLOOMBERG
Moncef Marzouki. Picture: BLOOMBERG

Tunis — A Tunisian court this week sentenced former president Moncef Marzouki to four years in prison after he criticised President Kais Saied and called for protests.

The court found against Marzouki on charges of “assaulting the external security of the state”, according to the state news agency TAP.

Marzouki, who lives in Paris, has described Saied’s seizure of powers in July as a coup, called for protests against him and urged that a major international meeting of French-speaking countries be moved from Tunisia.

Saied seized nearly all powers four months ago, suspending the parliament and dismissing the government in a move his critics called a coup, before installing a new prime minister and announcing he could rule by decree. He has rejected accusations  coup. He said he acted to end protracted political paralysis and that a referendum will be held in 2022 on a new constitution followed by parliamentary elections.

Foreign donors needed to help address a looming crisis in Tunisia’s public finances have urged Saied to restore normal constitutional order and say democracy and freedom of speech are important to their relationship with the North African country.

Demonstrators carry flags and banners during a protest against the Tunisian President Kais Saied's seizure of governing powers, in Tunis, Tunisia, September 26 2021. Picture: REUTERS/ZOUBEIR SOUISSI
Demonstrators carry flags and banners during a protest against the Tunisian President Kais Saied's seizure of governing powers, in Tunis, Tunisia, September 26 2021. Picture: REUTERS/ZOUBEIR SOUISSI

After Tunisia’s 2011 revolution that introduced democracy, an elected assembly appointed Marzouki as the interim president but he was removed from office.

Earlier this week Tunisian police clashed with protesters near the chamber of the suspended parliament  as demonstrators marched against Saied’s seizure of political power.

Hundreds of police had blocked off the area where thousands of protesters were gathering to demand that Saied restore parliament and normal democratic rule.

“We are under one-man rule since July 25 — we will stay here until they open the roads and end the siege,” a protest leader, Jawher Ben Mbarek, said.

However, Saied’s moves appear to have widespread popularity and thousands of his supporters gathered for a rally to back him in November. Several prominent politicians have been arrested and hundreds have faced travel bans. Jailing in absentia of Marzouki is an extension of the crackdown against opposition to his rule. 

Sunday’s protest followed clashes last week between police and protesters in the southern town of Agareb in which one person was killed.

Reuters 

subscribe

Would you like to comment on this article?
Register (it's quick and free) or sign in now.

Speech Bubbles

Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.

Commenting is subject to our house rules.