The deputy of Ennahda, Noureddine Bhiri, close to Rached Ghannouchi, at the head of the party of Islamist inspiration and bête noire of the head of state, was arrested Friday, December 31. “Plainclothes officers who were in two cars arrested Noureddine Bhiri as he was leaving with his wife from her home in El Manar”, district of Tunis, told Agence France-Presse the lawyer Samir Dilou, deputy resigned from Ennahda.
According to the same source, Mr. Bhiri, a powerful figure in this movement, was “Brutally arrested and taken to an unknown destination” by plainclothes agents, who also seized the cell phone of his wife, Saïda Akremi, a lawyer by profession.
No official source was available to give details of the reasons for this arrest. In a statement released Friday evening, the interior ministry announced that it had ordered the house arrest of two people, without naming names. This “Preventive measure was dictated by the need to preserve national security”, he added without giving further details.
Ennahda confirmed the arrest of Mr. Bhiri, also a former minister of justice, denouncing, in a statement, “A kidnapping and a dangerous precedent which marks the entry of the country into the tunnel of dictatorship”.
Zeineb Brahmi, legal officer of Ennahda, lamented to the press:
“Mr. Bhiri was kidnapped and violently assaulted in front of his neighbors and his wife (…), we do not yet know where he was taken. “
The same source said that the civil and military prosecutors had assured the political party that they had given no instructions for the arrest of Mr. Bhiri.
President, “Kaïs Saïed, and the Minister of the Interior, Taoufik Charfeddine, take responsibility for what happened”, said at a press conference in Tunis, Mohamed Goumani, head of Ennahda. Deploring “Intimidation to scare” to those who oppose Mr. Saïed’s coup, he assured that his party would “Face with all the political tools available”.
Arm wrestling with the president
Without commenting on this arrest, the Presidency of the Republic announced Friday on its official page a presidential pardon in favor of more than 1,300 detainees on the occasion of the New Year.
Ennahda has been at the heart of a standoff with the president, Kaïs Saïed, since his coup on July 25 and his decision to suspend the Parliament that this party had controlled for ten years.
In its press release, Ennahda denounced “The liquidation of opponents outside the framework of the law”. Several politicians and opponents have evoked a ” Rebellion “, warning against a desire of President Saïed to settle scores with those they designate in his speeches by the term of“Enemies”, without ever citing them by name.
On December 22, former President Moncef Marzouki, fierce critic of Mr. Saïed, living in France, was sentenced in absentia to four years in prison for having “undermined the security of the State abroad” after having publicly criticized the Tunisian power from Paris.