Tunisia ex-parliament speaker Ghannouchi’s bank accounts frozen

Tunisian judge orders accounts frozen of several politicians tied to the Ennahdha party, as political crisis continues.

Ghannouchi attends a celebration marking the 70th anniversary of the Tunisian General Labour Union (UGTT) in Tunis
A court had already imposed a travel ban on Ghannouchi late last month [FIle: Zoubeir Souissi/Reuters]

A Tunisian court has frozen the bank accounts of several key opponents to President Kais Saied, including Rached Ghannouchi, the head of the Ennahdha party, previously the biggest party in the country’s dissolved parliament.

The Tunisian Financial Analysis Committee issued a statement on Wednesday informing banks that they must “immediately implement the ruling from the investigating judge of the anti-terrorism pole”.

The statement carried a list including Ghannouchi, who was also the last parliament’s speaker, his son Mouadh, former Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali and former Foreign Minister Rafik Abdessalem, all of whom are or were key Ennahdha figures.

Ghannouchi has also been summoned to stand before an investigative judge on July 19 over money laundering allegations, a member of Ennahda said on Wednesday.

The party said that Ghannouchi did not hold any illegal funds and said the case against him was aimed at targeting political opponents of Saied.

Ghannouchi has been one of the most influential people in Tunisia since his return to the country after the fall of former President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali.

His Ennahdha party, a “Muslim Democrat” party formerly tied to the Muslim Brotherhood, and previously banned under Ben Ali, has dominated the country’s politics in the past decade, but has also attracted criticism.

The statement did not give details on why the order had been issued, but come as Tunisia’s political crisis deepens, a year after Saied dissolved the parliament and sacked the government in moves that the growing opposition to him have labelled as a “coup”.

A court had already imposed a travel ban on Ghannouchi late last month over an inquiry into high-profile political assassinations that rocked the country in 2013.

Jabali is under investigation for alleged money laundering in relation to foreign funds transferred to a Tunisian charity. He was arrested for several days last month before being released.

He is set to appear before an anti-terror court on July 20.

Last week, Saied unveiled a draft constitution set for referendum on July 25, the anniversary of his power grab.

Opponents accuse him of waging political vendettas and dragging the country back to dictatorship, over a decade since its pro-democracy revolt sparked the Arab Spring uprisings.

Tunisian judges went on strike last month in protest against Saied’s interference in the judiciary, and members of the committee the president himself set up to write the proposed new constitution have criticised the published draft.

Source: News Agencies