Tunisian Ennahdha party denies Ghannouchi under house arrest

Tunisian Ennahdha party denies Ghannouchi under arrest as parliament holds defiant Zoom session
2 min read
27 July, 2021
The Ennahdha party has denied that its leader, Tunisian Speaker of Parliament Rached El-Ghannouchi, was placed under house arrest as he presided over a defiant parliamentary session via Zoom.
The Tunisian Ennahda party said Ghannouchi had "conducted a series of meetings" after the presidential power-grab [Getty]

Tunisia’s Islamist-leaning Ennahda Party has denied that its leader, Speaker of the Tunisian Parliament Rached El-Ghannouchi, has been placed under house arrest following President Kais Saied's power-grab on Sunday.

Saied sacked Prime Minister Hichem Machichi and dissolved the Tunisian parliament on Sunday in a move widely decried as a 'coup'. The president also announced a nightly curfew, banned protests in public squares, closed the offices of Al-Jazeera, and imposed restrictions on other media organisations.

In a Facebook post on Monday, however, the Ennahda Party denied "false news" claiming that "the Speaker of the Parliament and president of the Ennahda Party, Mr. Rached El-Ghannouchi, had been banned from travelling and placed under house arrest".

The post added that Ghannouchi was now "conducting a series of meetings".

Ghannouchi was prevented by Tunisian security forces from entering the parliament building on Sunday and remained in his car outside the building until Monday morning.

On Monday, he presided over a meeting of the parliament conducted over the Zoom, in defiance of Saied's parliament suspension order.

Perspectives

He has also called on Tunisians to take to the streets to protest Saied's measures.

The Tunisian parliament has issued a statement calling Saied's seizure of power "invalid" and a "gross violation of the constitution".

Saied has said that his actions are justified by Article 80 of the constitution which authorises the president to take emergency measures in cases of "imminent danger" to Tunisia's security and independence.

Article 80, however, does not authorise the president to dissolve parliament and says his or her actions must restore stability and ensure the proper functioning of state institutions.

The parliament statement said that Saied's invocation of the article was a "severe deviation" from its intended principles.

It also called on the Tunisian army and security forces to "take the side of the Tunisian people and keep the promise to protect the constitution and the supremacy of the law" and not "submit to any order outside the spirit of the constitution and the rule of law".

After announcing his sacking of the prime minister and dissolution of parliament, Saied expressed his willingness to use force against anyone resisting his measures.

"Whoever shoots a bullet, the armed forces will respond with bullets," he said on Sunday.