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Tunisian president issues stern warning to opposition figures

A Tunisian security officer walks in front of the closed-down headquarters of the Ennahdha party in Tunis, on April 18, 2023.   -  
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The detained Tunisian opposition leader Rached Ghannouchi was transferred to a hospital Tuesday, a day after his home and party headquarters were searched by the police.

Nejib Chebbi, speaking to The Associated Press, said that neither he nor other lawyers know the reason for Ghannouchi's transfer to the La Marsa hospital, or his condition. 

Ghannouchi, head of the Ennahdha party, is 82. Chebbi is the president of the National Salvation Front coalition of which Ennahdha is a member.

Ghannouchi is the most prominent critic of President Kais Saied. He has been detained for questioning a number of times in the past, but the circumstances of his latest detention suggested that this time was more serious.

He served as speaker of Tunisia's parliament until Saied dissolved the body last July and seized most executive powers in the North African country — a move that Ghannouchi and other opponents call a coup.

Police entered Ghannouchi's house Monday night for a lengthy search and brought him to the El Aouina jail in the east of the capital. During a news conference shortly thereafter, Ennahdha officials said three other leaders of the moderate Islamist party had been arrested. Police evacuated and searched the party headquarters.

Police also surrounded the offices of the National Salvation Front, stopping party officials from holding a news conference on the circumstances surrounding Ghannouchi's detention.

“What's happening is the deterioration of freedoms in the country,” Chebbi told AP.

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