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Former Tunisian President Marzouki gets eight year sentence in absentia

Move forms part of longstanding crackdown on opposition figures by current President Kais Saied
Moncef Marzouki was the Tunisian president between 2011 and 2014 (AFP)

A court in Tunisia sentenced its former president, Moncef Marzouki, to eight years in prison on accusations of "assaulting state security" and incitement.

Marzouki ruled Tunisia between December 2011 and 2014, in the aftermath of the revolution that overthrew long time ruler Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali in 2011.

Exiled in Paris since the 2021 power grab by current President Kais Saied, Marzouki has been a vocal critic of Tunisia's slide back into autocracy.

While politically a liberal human rights advocate, Marzouki has worked closely with Islamic opposition parties, such as Ennahda, throughout his political career.

Today members of Ennahda bear the brunt of Saied's crackdown, with its leaders and senior members, including Rached Ghannouchi and Said Ferjani, being imprisoned.

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All opposed the 2021 seizure of power by Saied, who fired his government and began ruling by decree.

Rights groups such as Amnesty International have consistently criticised both the limiting of political and personal freedoms under his rule.

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Despite his crackdown on opponents, the EU and other western powers have continued to work closely with Saied.

The Tunisian leader is a key partner in European attempts to stymie the movement of migrants from the North African coast into southern Europe.

An agreement signed in July 2023 saw Tunisia offer greater efforts to stop migrants leaving towards Europe from its territory in return for economic and security aid.

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