Tunisia's Ennahda calls for investigation after Saied claims Islamist 'assassination plot'

Tunisia's Ennahda calls for investigation after Saied claims Islamist 'assassination plot'
3 min read
23 August, 2021
Tunisia’s Ennahda Party has called for an investigation and reiterated its commitment to dialogue and the law after President Kais Saied attacked Islamists, saying that they were plotting to assassinate him.
Saied has accused Islamists of plotting to assassinate him [Getty]

Tunisia's moderate Islamist Ennahdha Party has called for an investigation after reports emerged that President Kais Saied was targeted for an assassination attempt by an Islamic State group-linked militant.

The Tunisian newspaper Al-Shorouk on Sunday reported that a "lone wolf" militant was arrested for plotting to assassinate Saied in a Tunisian coastal city, without giving further details.

Tunisian authorities previously said they had arrested a "terrorist" in the city of Monastir, who was attempting to incite Saied's killing via social media.

Saied gave a speech on Friday directly accusing Islamist "political groups" of plotting his assassination and other violent acts, saying "I fear no one but God and if I die I will be a martyr".

"They say that their reference is Islam, where is Islam in this? What is their connection to Islam and the purposes of Islam?" he added.

Saied said that Islamists were "assailing the reputation of women and men" and "using lies as a political tool".

These were his first attacks on Islamism as an ideology since his July "power grab".

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On 25 July, Saied sacked Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi and dissolved the Tunisian parliament, where the Islamist Ennahda party held the most seats. The move has been characterised as an anti-democratic "power-grab" and a "coup" by Ennahda and other critics of the president.

Amid reports that the alleged assassination plots were hatched from neighbouring Libya, Saied also warned: "We have missiles on their launch pads to strike them in their inner depths and they should be careful about what they are doing."

However, despite the Tunisian leader's belligerent remarks aimed at unspecified "Islamists", Ennahda said on Saturday that it supported an investigation into the claims made in his speech, condemning any "conspiracy" against the president and the state.

In a statement, the Islamist party called on Tunisian security forces and law authorities to look into Saied's claims, adding that it was committed to the laws of the country and to dialogue to solve the political crisis.

While Ennahda condemned Saied's power-grab, it later said that the president's move could be a stage in Tunisia's transition to democracy.

On Saturday, Ennahda’s spokesman Fathi El-Ayadi told Tunisian Mosaique FM radio that the movement was "concerned" by Saied's allegations of conspiracies and plots to assassinate him.

Ennahda added on Sunday that it opposed any personal verbal attacks on Saied and his family and would impose disciplinary measures on members who made such attacks.

On Sunday evening, Saied met with a delegation from Saudi Arabia and said that there would be "no going back" to the situation which existed before his power grab. 

While the president has said that he aims to form a government within the next few weeks, he has not named a possible candidate for the post of prime minister and rejected calls for a "road map" to reinstate parliament and end the country's current political crisis.