TUNIS, Tunisia (AP) — Tunisian authorities arrested the leader of the Ennahda opposition Islamist movement in a crackdown on rival politicians and critics of the North African country’s increasingly authoritarian president Kais Saied, according to lawyers.
Noureddine Bhiri, a senior Ennahda leader, was taken into custody by armed police at his home in the capital, Tunis, late Monday on suspicion of being part of a “conspiracy against the country’s security,” the movement’s lawyer, Ines Harrathi, said in a Facebook post.
Lazhar Akremi, a lawyer and critic of Saied, and Noureddine Bouttar, the director general of an independent radio station, Mosaïque, were also arrested by the security forces overnight Tuesday, according to Bouttar’s lawyer, Dalila Msaddek.
Authorities have not released any information on the wave of arrests that started over the weekend.
The crackdown — targeting Tunisian opposition figures, the president’s critics and opponents in the media, judiciary and economic community — comes after a disastrous parliamentary election last month in which only 11% of the voters cast their ballots. The vote was organized by Saied, who is determined to reshape the country’s political system and replace a legislature that he had dissolved in 2021.
Tunisia is going through a major economic crisis, with soaring inflation and unemployment, particularly among the country’s youth. Critics of Saied’s leadership and political elites accuse them of bringing the country’s economy to the brink of bankruptcy.