By Staff Writer
On Wednesday, Moncef Marzouki, Tunisia’s first President, was sentenced to 4 years in prison on charges of “harming the state’s external security”. A former Human Rights activist and Defender, Marzouki was a fervent critic of President Qais Saied’s July power grab. In October, he urged Paris not to support the ‘dictator’. In December, he called on the Biden administration to work toward democracy in the Middle East and partner with civil society instead of the region’s autocrats. His diplomatic passport was revoked after the October speech. Saied indicated his judiciary control by requesting that his unconstitutionally appointed justice minister carry out an inquiry to determine Marzouki’s work with external states. Alluding to the politicisation, Interpol has not yet issued a red notice, preferring to shun Saied’s international warrant at the current time. However, changes may occur with the UAE’s former Inspector General, Ahmed Naser Al Raisi, appointed the agencies head in November. Raisi’s appointment was severely criticised, especially in his implication in torture and other human rights abuses.
Marzouki has not yet stated in response to the sentence but previously called the arrest warrant dangerous for all Tunisians.
Saied’s dictatorial tendencies have continued since the July coup. He has suspended parliament, revoked parliamentary immunity, and sought to restructure the judiciary. Further, he has suspended the country’s constitution, vowing a referendum and formulating a new constitution, which would likely further empower him. The coup was initially popular; however, his continued power grab has seen almost all the political system, including the Tunisian General Labour Union (UGTT), unsuccessfully oppose him. He is supported by Egypt and Saudi Arabia, who view political Islam as an existential threat.