A senior official from Tunisia’s Ennahdha party has been placed under house arrest over an alleged abuse of authority.
Anouar Maarouf became the most prominent member of the party to be targeted since President Kais Saied dismissed the prime minister and suspended parliament on July 25 in what Ennahdha termed a coup.
Maarouf was “informed by security forces that he has been placed under house arrest without providing him with a written copy or a justified order issued by the Minister of Interior, as stipulated by law”, the Ennahdha party said in a statement on Friday, adding that it would appeal the decision.
“It was an arbitrary decision that affects the right of movement, travel and freedom of expression.”
The statement added that the party has instructed “its legal office to challenge this decision before the Administrative Court”.
The interior ministry has not commented on the statement.
Maarouf was head of the Ministry of Communications and Technology from 2016 to 2020. President Saied had suggested that the ministry was manipulated by political parties for their own advantage.
Although Saied’s moves last month appear to have popular support, they have raised questions about Tunisia’s democratic transition a decade after it threw off autocratic rule in a revolution that triggered the 2011 Arab Spring.
Several politicians and officials have been detained or are under investigation, including on old warrants that were implemented after the president lifted parliamentary immunity.
Saied has moved to gain direct control over the Ministry of Interior and the Ministry of Communications and Technology, replacing the ministers in charge of both.
This week, he said he would not accept future communications and technology ministers being linked to political parties that might want control over citizens’ data.
Last week, the judiciary said it was investigating four political parties, including Ennahdha, over foreign financing.
Ennahdha said it has not broken any rules.
The judiciary also briefly investigated four party members, including some close to the leader, parliament speaker Rached Ghannouchi, over slight scuffles with Saied supporters on July 26.
The cases were quickly dropped.