During the last hours, concern has increased among the ranks of the Tunisian opposition about the possible authoritarian drift of the country's president, Kais Said, after the arrest of Yasín Ayari, an independent deputy, and the prosecution of four members of the Ennahda party. The measures against several opponents come almost a week after Said, who was elected at the polls in 2019 with overwhelming support, assumed full executive powers, removed the prime minister and suspended the work of Parliament in a forced interpretation of an article of the Constitution designed for situations of "imminent danger" for the nation.
Ayari was arrested on Friday afternoon after 20 plainclothes officers who claimed to belong to an elite unit of the Presidential Guard showed up at his residence, the deputy's wife told Reuters.
Ayari, elected as an independent but now belongs to a small party, has been highly critical of President Said and the Army, especially on his Facebook page.
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In fact, Ayari was already sentenced to three months in jail in 2018 for "insults" to the Armed Forces, but he did not enter jail due to parliamentary immunity.
Among the exceptional measures adopted by Said last Sunday is the lifting of immunity to all deputies of the Assembly of People's Representatives.
In 2015, Ayari served four months in jail under the same charge.
"They arrested him by force while his mother screamed," explained his wife, Cyrine Fitouri, who assured that the agents prevented the recording of the violent arrest.
On the other hand, the Tunisian official agency, TAP, has reported that four members of the Islamist Ennahda party, the first in Parliament and the most critical of Said's order, which it has described as a coup, have been prosecuted for "attempted of the commission of violent acts in front of Parliament after the announcement of the president's measures ”.
Two of the defendants are members of the Shura Council, Ennahda's highest internal body, while a third is the bodyguard of Rachid Ghannouchi, leader of the Islamist party and current Speaker of Parliament.
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On Monday, the day after Said's coup, Ennahda called on her militants to protest in front of Parliament. Hundreds of supporters turned out, and there were several moments of tension between the security forces that had closed down Parliament and the protesters, as well as between them and some groups of Said supporters. However, the day ended without any serious injuries or arrests. Hours later, the leaders of the Islamist formation changed their strategy and urged their militants to stay at home to avoid an escalation of tension.
Another presidential measure that has raised concern among opposition leaders is the fact that the official bulletin where the suspension of Parliament's work for a month was published on Thursday establishes that the measure is extendable, something that the president did not make explicit in his address to the nation on Sunday. Said, who has not yet appointed a prime minister despite being urged by both Tunisian civil society and the foreign ministries of several countries, has already chosen the person who will lead the Ministry of the Interior. This is Ridha Gharsallaoui, a police officer who until now served as adviser to the president on national security matters.