'Mentally unstable': leaked tape reportedly of ex-chief of staff mocking Tunisian president
A new leaked tape, reportedly of Nadia Akacha, a former chief of staff of Tunisian President Kais Saied, in which she mocks the president's foreign policy and his mental health, has taken the North African country by a storm.
In the recording, the voice of someone alleged to be Akacha is heard saying, "He [Saied] makes me laugh, the poor. He makes me laugh [intense laughter]. (...) Did you see him yesterday? He's threatening the Americans. [laughter] People at the Embassy are probably laughing. Did you hear him?"
The speaker in the recording was referencing brewing tensions between Saied and the former US ambassador in Tunis, Donald Blome, who continued to emphasise the need for reform in an inclusive process of diverse political and civil society voices in the country.
President Saeid reportedly threatened to tell Blome to "Go home!" and make him a persona-non-grata, meaning that his diplomatic immunity from arrest and other types of prosecution would be lifted.
"[…] If I didn't calm [Saied] down, he would've made him a persona non-grata as he said," the speaker claimed. "I told him [Blome], "Never mind". Blome responded: "I know." Thank god I was calming him down."
Then, the speaker moved on to discuss Chris Murphy's meeting with Saied in September, and said, "He lectured him about the Constitution of Connecticut. He spent a week trying to find it. [...] He asked to print the Constitution and put it in a frame so he can give it to [Murphy]."
In September last year, Chris Murphy, a US senator from Connecticut, led a congressional delegation to Tunisia, where he met with President Kais Saied, representatives of civil society organizations, and members of parliament to express support for the Tunisian people's goal for a democratic government.
The drama over leaked tapes began on Friday, when the first recordings of reportedly Nadia Akacha surfaced on social media, revealing new information about the President's health.
"His end will be very dire, because he [Saied] is sick and does not want to admit his illness, and insists on that," Akacha had said in that recording, adding that Saied "suffers on a very personal and psychological level."
In another leaked tape, a voice, also purportedly, Akacha mocked Saied, in which she said, "I know he is afraid. He called me three times from the phone of his residence, and I did not answer him."
"I was not like Saied, trembling when I saw [French President Emmanuel] Macron. It is not my fault that he started trembling when meeting Macron. Rather, it is his fault because of his psyche, and he who threw himself to kiss the man," added the speaker, in response to the critics accusing her of "falling into the arms of the outside."
The alleged voice of Akacha is heard warning that she "could cause an earthquake" in Tunisia if she revealed what she knew.
The recordings were widely shared on social media and reported by Tunisian news sites. Tunisian authorities have not responded to the recordings yet.
Akacha denied this past Friday the alleged leaked tapes, accusing her critics of faking the recordings in an attempt to discredit her.
Akacha, who still speaks highly of Saied's power grab, currently lives in France after she stepped down in January from her position, citing "fundamental disagreement" with the authority amid the mounting tensions between the president and his critics.
Amid the Tunisian authority's silence, opposition leaders are demanding clarifications on the president's state of health, following the leaked information.
"The Tunisian people have the right to know the physical and psychological health of the head of state. Especially after he has taken over all powers and has become the ruler of his order in everything," Ghazi Chawashi, the Secretary-General of the Democratic Flow, wrote on Facebook.
Meanwhile, an activist from the "Citizens Against the Coup" movement, Al-Saghir Al-Shamekh, said that the recordings revealed the extent of the abuse of power by Akacha showed as she allegedly shared state secrets with other people.
"Nadia Akacha showed arrogantly the extent of the absurdity and abuse of influence that she was exercising in the palace and outside it. It shows [the leaks] incompetence of Nadia as chief of the Presidential Office," wrote Al-Shamekh on his personal Facebook account.