Senior Opposition Figure Arrested in Tunisia

Jaouhar Ben M’barek

Tunisian security agents have arrested Jaouhar Ben M’barek, the most prominent opposition politician to be apprehended in an intensifying campaign of arrests aimed at Kais Saied’s opponents.

Ben M’barek was the most recent of a dozen important public figures detained this month, the majority of whom were Saied’s adversaries. In a dramatic July 2021 move against the only democracy to emerge from the Arab spring upheavals, Saied froze parliament and dismissed the administration.

Thereafter, Saied pushed through substantial changes to the political structure of the north African nation, concentrating nearly entire authority in his office.

The left-leaning political party Ben M’barek, a former government adviser, is now a major member of the National Salvation Front (NSF) and the leader of the Citizens Against the Coup movement, both of which were created in response to Saied’s power grab.

This treatment and the arrests show that the authorities are flailing around and have failed to manage the political, economic and social situation as well as Tunisia’s international relations,” said NSF chief Ahmed Nejib Chebbi.

Ben M’barek’s father posted on Facebook that he had also been detained by police for several hours.

Among those arrested in the recent clampdown is Noureddine Boutar, the director of the most popular private radio station in the country, Mosaque FM, which has been critical of the president and all governments since the revolution.

Authorities had questioned Boutar about the station’s editorial stance during his detention, according to his attorneys, who claim the investigation was politically motivated.