Sun. Apr 21st, 2024

Imprisoned Tunisian opposition leader Rached Ghannouchi went on a hunger strike on Monday in solidarity with other anti-government figures waging a protest fast to demand their immediate release.

Ghannouchi’s lawyer in a statement on Monday said he’s fighting on an ‘empty stomach’.

According to Reuters, Ghannouchi, 82, a fierce critic of President Kais Saied and head of the Ennahda main opposition party, was jailed last year on charges of incitement against police and plotting against state security.

In a separate case earlier in February 2024, a judge sentenced him to three years in prison on charges of accepting external financing.

“While he is fighting the ’empty stomach’ battle, Ghannouchi calls on Tunisians to adhere to a democratic Tunisia that includes everyone on the basis of freedom … and the independence of the judiciary,” the lawyer said in a statement.

The opposition has described Saied’s sudden shutting down of the elected parliament in 2021 and moves to rule by decree as a coup.

Saied, who enshrined his new constitutional powers in a referendum with a low turnout in 2022, has denied that his actions were tantamount to a coup.

According to him, they were needed to save Tunisia from years of chaos.

Six opposition leaders arrested during a crackdown in 2023 began an open-ended hunger strike last week to protest against their imprisonment without trial and demand their immediate release.

They called for an end to judicial prosecutions against all politicians, journalists and civil society activists and for intimidation and threats to judges to stop.

The opposition leaders are Jawher Ben Mbarak, Khayam Turki, Ghazi Chaouachi, Issam Chabbi, Abdelhamid Jalasi, and Rida Belhaj.

They were detained on suspicion of plotting against state security.

The opposition accused Saied of pulling apart the democracy built after a 2011 revolution.

However, Saied denied the allegations and called his critics criminals, traitors and terrorists.

He warned that any judge who freed them would be considered to be abetting them

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *