A member of Tunisia’s suspended parliament, Yassin Ayari, has been sentenced in absentia to 10 months by a military court on charges of disrespecting President Kais Saied and the army after he described the president’s move to freeze parliament as a military coup.
President Saied suspended the Parliament on July 25, dismissed the government and seized control of most authorities, drawing widespread criticism at home and abroad.
The prison sentence will reinforce opposition fears that Saied is seeking revenge on his opponents after he also dissolved the Supreme Judicial Council, the body which guarantees the independence of the judiciary.
Ayari in a Facebook post had described Saied’s actions as a military coup.
“It’s ridiculous. … Yesterday, Saied said in Brussels that he is not a dictator and today a military court issues a prison sentence against freedom of expression to a lawmaker,” Ayari spoke from Paris.
Saied’s critics accuse him of seeking authoritarian powers and undermining the rule of law.
President Saied has promised to uphold rights and freedoms won in the 2011 revolution that brought democracy to Tunisia and will put a new constitution to a referendum this summer, with new parliamentary elections to follow in December.
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