Tunisia: Opposition Arrests Draw Criticism as Political Tensions Rise

by | Feb 17, 2023 | Political, Tunisia


Between 6 and 13 February 2023, Tunisian authorities arrested several prominent politicians, trade unionists, businessmen, judges and media professionals. Official reports allege the arrests were prompted by suspicions of conspiracy against state security and efforts to overthrow President Kais Saied.

Among those reportedly arrested were:

  • Businessmen Kamal al-Latif, 
  • Political activist Khayyam al-Turki
  • Former minister and lawyer Lazhar al-Akrami
  • Deputy head of the Ennahda Movement and former Minister of Justice Noureddine Al-Buhairi
  • Former prosecutor and judge Al-Bashir Al-Akrami
  • Former President of the Court of Cassation Al-Tayeb Rashid
  • Director of radio station Mosaique FM Noureddine Boutar

These arrests sparked an outcry both internally and externally, but authorities provided few details regarding the cases and investigations. While many have expressed concern about the arrests, others within Tunisia have asserted that such actions are necessary to preserve public order and security as the country weathers its ongoing economic crisis.

In light of the arrests, the European Union emphasized respect for legal procedures and expressed support for the Tunisian people, human rights, and freedom of expression. 

President Kais Saied responded to concerns in a  statement, emphasizing that all freedoms are guaranteed and that no party has been prevented from expressing an opinion. He affirmed that Tunisia will preserve its sovereignty and rejected foreign interference in Tunisian affairs.

These developments coincide with a protest by the Tunisian Journalists Union and additional preparations for large-scale UGTT demonstrations in order to denounce what it says is the targeting of trade union work by the administration following the arrest of a prominent trade unionist.


The escalation of the conflict between Tunisia’s powerful unions and the administration continues, creating a  political climate fraught with risk, particularly as the economic and social situation remains unstable. It is likely that tensions will increase between the unions and the president, as highlighted recently by a large group of civil society organizations signing a statement in support of the unions. Additional public demonstrations continue to be likely and the potential for civil unrest continues to grow.


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