Tunisia: Alarms Raised Over Crackdown on Ennahdha and NSF

by | Apr 20, 2023 | Political, Security, Tunisia


On 17 April 2023, following the arrest of Ennahdha leader Rached Ghannouchi, recently appointed Minister of the Interior Kamal al-Feki issued an order preventing Ennahdha meetings nationwide. The same order instructed security services to prevent National Salvation Front (NSF) meetings in the capital of Tunis.

Ennahdha announced that following Ghannouchi’s arrest, additional members of the party were arrested and that police had searched Ennahdha’s party headquarters, clearing out the personnel in the process. The Ennahdha headquarters remains closed.

Security forces also surrounded the NSF offices, preventing the NSF leadership from holding a press conference regarding Ghannouchi’s arrest.

Taken together, these actions have been widely criticized as undemocratic and a move to silence political opposition in Tunisia. A politician and former Ennahdha leader, Abdellatif Mekki has since called the order a move to undermine political freedoms.

Leaders from across the world have expressed concern about Ghannouchi’s arrest and the limitations placed on Ennahdha and NSF.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan expressed strong concerns about the arrest of Ghannouchi, referring to Ghannochi as a “brother.” The Turkish Foreign Ministry followed this with a statement cautioning that such actions do not “contribute to social peace” in Tunisia.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs from Malaysia appealed for “special consideration and mercy” for Ghannouchi, noting “his health and age.”

The European Union, the United States, and Germany, among others, issued statements that raised concerns about democratic losses in Tunisia.


While the latest moves against Ennahdha and the NSF have drawn criticism, Saied continues to operate well within his popular mandate, targeting those groups that many Tunisians view as the source of corruption that is harming the country.

The arrests and limits placed on gatherings by political opposition parties has further raised concerns amongst Tunisia’s political class, but are unlikely to mobilize significant activity against President Saied.

Many Tunisians maintain so little faith in the democratic process (which they view as having failed them in the post-revolution period), that they are unwilling to be bothered with more news of political infighting. Many, indeed, view it as progress toward a better Tunisia.

We are continuing to watch for signs that the broader public is losing patience with President Saied’s reform process, including the economic challenges that are increasingly impacting Tunisia’s rural population.


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