After sentencing in absentia Ennahda leader Rashid Ghannouchi to a year in prison for “glorifying terrorism,” Khaled al-Mishri, head of the Libyan Supreme Council of State, denounced the arrest of the “people-elected Speaker of Parliament” and expressed his regret at the return of dictatorship to Tunisia.
On Tuesday, a senior Libyan official expressed his regret over the “return of dictatorship” to Tunisia, expressing his solidarity with the arrested Tunisian dissident, Rashid Ghannouchi, leader of the Islamist Ennahda Party.
Khaled al-Mishri, head of the Supreme Council of State, which serves as a second chamber of parliament, denounced, in a post on social media, the arrest of “the speaker of Parliament elected by the people, the militant thinker Rashid Ghannouchi.”
Al-Mishri added, “This absurd development testifies to the return of dictatorship, injustice, and the muzzling of freedom of expression in Tunisia,” adding, “Ghannouchi, you are not alone.”
Ghannouchi (81 years old), one of the most prominent opponents of President Kais Saied, was arrested on April 17 after making statements in which he said that Tunisia would be threatened with a “civil war” if left-wing parties or those affiliated with political Islam were eliminated. On Monday, he was initially sentenced to a year in prison on charges of “glorifying terrorism” in another case, against which the judicial pole for combating terrorism heard him in February and left him on release at that time.
The hearing came after a complaint filed by a security union accusing him of inciting Tunisians to fight, because he said in early 2022 during the funeral of one of the leaders of Ennahda and the former director of the Qatari Al-Jazeera channel, Farhat Al-Abbar, that the deceased “did not fear rulers or tyrants.” The Syndicate believed that the security institution is what is meant by this phrase.
On Tuesday, the Ennahda Party condemned the imprisonment of its leader, Rashid Ghannouchi, describing it as an “unjust political ruling.”
Since the beginning of February, the authorities have arrested more than 20 dissidents and activists, including former ministers, businessmen and the owner of the most prominent radio station “Mosaique FM” in Tunisia.
The United States and Europe criticized Ghannouchi’s arrest in April, but President Saied dismissed the criticism as “flagrant interference” in Tunisian affairs.
Khaled Al-Mishri’s statements are likely to infuriate the Tunisian authorities and create new tensions with neighboring Libya, especially since Qais Saeed recently stated that he rejects any “blatant external interference” and hinted that the imprisonment of Rashid Ghannouchi, the leader of the Ennahda party, was due to his call for civil war.
After a period of intense tension, relations between Tunisia and Libya improved at the end of November, on the occasion of the visit of the head of the Tripoli government, Abdul Hamid al-Dabaiba, to Tunisia, during which the importance of cooperation between the two countries in all fields, especially in the fields of economy and security, was emphasized.