| 21 May 2024, Tuesday |

Tunisia’s military court sentences lawmaker on charges of insulting president

Yassin Ayari, a member of Tunisia’s suspended parliament, told Reuters that a military court sentenced him in absentia to 10 months in jail on Friday for insulting the president and the army after he called the president’s decision to suspend parliament a military coup.

On July 25, President Kais Saied suspended Parliament, fired the cabinet, and took control of most authorities, sparking significant condemnation at home and internationally.

The prison sentence will reinforce opposition fears that Saied is seeking revenge on his opponents, after he also dissolved the Supreme Judicial Council, the body which guarantees independence of the judiciary

Ayari in a Facebook post had described Saied’s actions as a military coup.

“It’s ridiculous. … Yesterday Saied said in Brussels that he is not a dictator and today a military court issues a prison sentence against freedom of expression to a lawmaker,” Ayari told Reuters by phone from Paris.

Saied’s critics accuse him of seeking dictatorial powers and undermining the rule of law.

Saied has said he will uphold rights and freedoms won in the 2011 revolution that brought democracy to Tunisia and will put a new constitution to a referendum this summer, with new parliamentary elections to follow in December.

  • Reuters