Workers Party slams Tunisian court’s decision to prosecute 19 top opposition leaders

The Workers’ Party termed the decision to prosecute its general secretary Hamma Hammami on charges of violating electoral laws a political stunt by the Kais Saied government

January 08, 2022 by Abdul Rahman
Hamma Hammami addressing a rally of Workers Party, Photo: Workers’ Party Facebook Page

The Workers’ Party of Tunisia condemned the decision of a court to prosecute its secretary general Hamma Hammami, along with 18 other opposition leaders, in a case related to “electoral violations” in the 2019 presidential elections.

In the statement on Thursday, January 6, it accused the government of indulging in political propaganda against the opposition sections in its attempt to portray them as “corrupt.” It is part of the “political process aimed at putting everyone in the same basket,” and part of the moves taken since July’s “political coup,” the statement said.

Hamma Hammami was a candidate of the left parties’ Popular Front in the 2019 elections. He and the 18 other political leaders have been charged with “political advertising” and “violation of electoral silence” which means they had used social media to campaign even during the periods when canvassing was prohibited. According to the president of the Court of Auditors in Tunisia, these violations, if proven, are punishable with fines of up to 20,000 dinars or around USD 6,950, TAP reported.  The case of electoral violations is based on the findings of the report of the Court of Auditors.

According to media reports, among the other politicians who will be prosecuted by the Court of First Instance are the head of the Ennahda party and speaker of the suspended parliament Rached Ghannouchi, former president Moncef Marzouki and former prime ministers Youssef Chahed and Elyes Fakhfakh.

The leaders will be asked to appear in court on January 19, according to the TAP report.

Ennahda’s spokesperson said that Ghannouchi will appear in court if summoned, Middle East Eye reported.

“A part of the larger political coup “

The Workers’ Party also raised the issue of President Kais Saied’s name not being in the list of politicians who will face charges despite him being mentioned in the report submitted by the Court of Auditors last year.

The statement issued by the Workers’ Party alleged that this issue was being raised now as part of Kais Saied’s anti-democratic moves. The party termed this an attempt to distract people from the day-to-day issues of price rises, increase in taxes, and rising public and foreign debt.

Kais Saied, claiming imminent danger to the nation due to the inefficiency, political instability, and corruption, had on July 25, 2021 dismissed the government led by Hichem Mechichi and suspended the parliament. In the following months, he announced the appointment of Najla Bouden as prime minister and his right to rule by decree bypassing the country’s constitution. In December, he extended the suspension of the parliament indefinitely and announced a referendum on constitutional reforms in July 2022 and fresh elections in December 2022.

The opposition parties, including the Workers’ Party, have termed Kais Saied’s moves as a “political coup” and have organized various demonstrations demanding immediate elections, respect for the 2014 constitution and the restoration of the parliament.