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Tunisia: Former prime minister Hamadi Jebali reportedly arrested

Tunisia's interior ministry denied claims from Ennahda and Jebali's Facebook page that he had been detained
Former Tunisian prime minister Hamadi Jebali, seen here with his wife Wahida in 2019, has reportedly been detained in Tunisia (AFP)
Hamadi Jebali, seen here with his wife Wahida in 2019, has reportedly been detained in Tunisia (AFP)

Former prime minister Hamadi Jebali has reportedly been arrested in Tunisia, as the government continues a crackdown on opposition politicians.

A statement posted on the 73-year-old's Facebook page late on Thursday said that "heavily armed security forces" stormed Jebali's workshop and "kidnapped and detained him illegally", adding that he was in poor health. 

A subsequent statement said that he was "still detained at the National Security Center in Hammam Sousse", without going into further details.

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The Ennahda party, of which Jebali is a member, also said he had been arrested and demanded his release.

Tunisia's Ministry of Interior has denied the claims. Instead, it issued a statement saying that police had launched an investigation into a factory on land owned by Jebali's wife, and that he had accompanied her to the police station.

Since July, Kais Saied, a former law professor elected as president in 2019, has consolidated his powers to rule and legislate by decree, seizing control of the judiciary in Tunisia.

The country had been widely praised for its democratic achievements after the 2011 revolution that toppled longtime ruler Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali. However, Saied's power grab has seen many warn that the country is sliding back into autocracy.

Tunisians are set to vote on constitutional reforms on 25 July and elect a new parliament on 17 December.