Tunisia: Ennahdha Leader Arrested, Continuing String of Opposition Arrests

by | Apr 18, 2023 | Political, Security, Tunisia


On the night of 17 April 2023, Ennahdha Party leader Rached Ghannouchi was arrested at his home after a video of him warning of the potential for civil war had circulated.

Many opposition figures expressed outrage at Ghannouchi’s arrest, particularly the timing on what is considered one of the holiest nights of the Islamic calendar, the 27th night of Ramadan.

Following Ghannouchi’s arrest, his family expressed concern about his health, requesting leniency. The day after his arrest, Ghannouchi was reportedly transferred to a hospital for treatment with little explanation provided. However, on Thursday, 20 April 2023, a judge ordered his ongoing detention.

Ghannouchi’s arrest comes after a string of opposition officials have been detained, many of them under accusations of conspiring against state security. Former Prime Minister and senior Ennahdha official Ali Larayedh remains in custody following his arrest in late December 2022.

Ghannouchi has been the frequent target of court summons as he and the Ennahdha party remain controversial across the Tunisian political landscape. Many Tunisians view Ghannouchi as a bastion of Muslim democratic thought, while others blame him and Ennahdha for the state of Tunisia’s economic and political troubles.

In July 2022, Ghannouchi was questioned over issues related to terrorist financing in connection with organizations linked to Ennahdha. This led to the launch of a full-scale investigation in August 2022. Ghannouchi was summoned for questioning again in December 2022 after he made statements critical of the country’s security forces.


Ghannouchi’s arrest has heightened concerns both internally and externally about the state of Tunisia’s politics, with many decrying a continued slide toward authoritarianism on the part of President Kais Saied.

However, the President’s supporters have praised his persistent focus on anti-corruption and his pressure campaign on Tunisia’s political parties, including Ennahdha, who many Tunisians cite as the cause of the country’s decline.

Ghannouchi’s arrest has inevitably raised political tensions in the country and has mobilized the political class to speak out in defense of democracy, if not of Ghannouchi himself. However, broader sympathy for Tunisia’s political leaders has waned in recent years as skepticism toward democratic solutions to Tunisia’s underlying challenges has deepened.

Our team will continue monitoring events stemming from Ghannouchi’s arrest for indications of potential impacts on the risk environment in Tunisia.


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