Tunisia Frees Ennahda Party VP after 2 Months in Detention

Noureddine Bhairi, the vice president of the moderate Islamist Ennahda party, was on Tuesday released after over two months in detention. The 64-year-old arrived at his house at dawn in an ambulance..

Bhairi was arrested after Ennahda, which is the biggest party in Tunisia’s suspended parliament, accused President Kais Saied of mounting a coup by dissolving parliament and seizing executive powers. 

His supporters said he went on hunger strike in detention. Bhairi appeared to have lost a lot of weight in the video footage released by his party.

In January, the interior ministry announced that Bhairi was being held for illegally submitting passports and nationality documents as well as for terrorism. The ministry did not elaborate further. Ennahda dismissed the claims as politically motivated.

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After Bhairi’s release, Ennahda Chairman Rached Ghannouchi said, “We thank God for freedom, and hope that Tunisia will no longer be in a stage of revenge, injustice.”

The interior ministry said it had lifted what it called Bhairi’s house arrest following the creation of the Supreme Judicial Council, which would enable the judiciary to complete its investigation into the matter.

President Saied appointed a temporary replacement Monday for the top judicial council, which he dissolved last month in an effort to consolidate his power.

In July, he seized executive authority, saying it was temporary and needed to protect Tunisia from what he saw as a corrupt, self-serving elite.

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Several senior politicians and business leaders have been detained or prosecuted since Saied’s intervention in July, often as a result of corruption or defamation charges.

Some of these arrests and the use of military courts in these cases have been criticized by rights groups.

Dissidents and critics of Saied have not been arrested in a widespread campaign, and the state news agency continues to report news that is unfavourable to the government.

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