Tunisian MP critical of president arrested by security forces

1 month ago 16
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Yassin Ayari’s wife says about 20 men who introduced themselves as members of presidential security used violence as they detained him.

Tunisian security forces arrested a member of parliament at his home, his wife and lawyer said, after he criticised President Kais Saied on Facebook and called his seizure of governing powers a “coup”.

Yassin Ayari, who represents a small party in Parliament, has previously expressed frequent criticism of Saied, who on Sunday dismissed the prime minister, froze Parliament for a month and said he was taking over executive authority.

Neither the security forces nor the judiciary were immediately available for comment on Ayari’s arrest.

Ayari’s wife, Cyrine Fitouri, told Reuters news agency by phone that about 20 men in plain clothes who introduced themselves as members of a presidential security unit had raided their home earlier on Friday and used violence as they arrested him.

“They took him forcefully while his mother was shouting,” she said, adding that they had told the family not to film them as they took him away.

A lawyer representing Ayari told Al Jazeera that security forces in civilian clothes took the parliamentarian to an unknown destination. He added that Ayari was not previously summoned for investigation.

Saied on Thursday said he would uphold the freedoms and rights of Tunisians as the United States urged him to return the country to “the democratic path” and key civil society groups said he must uphold the constitution.

His actions appear to have widespread popular support in Tunisia, where years of misgovernance, corruption, political paralysis and economic stagnation have been aggravated by a deadly surge in COVID-19 cases.

When Saied announced his seizure of governing powers on Sunday he also said he would take over public prosecutions and lifted the immunity of parliament members.

The judiciary, which has declared its political independence, said this week it had previously opened investigations into three political parties that have opposed Saied, and has now started investigations into several legislators.



Al Jazeera and news agencies

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