Tunisian military court sentences MP for insulting president

Tunisian presidential candidate Kais Saied and his wife Ichraf Chebil react after the announcement of the exit poll results during the second round of the presidential election in Tunis, Tunisia October 13, 2019. REUTERS/Zoubeir Souissi

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TUNIS, Feb 18 (Reuters) – A suspended Tunisian member of parliament, Yassin Ayari, told Reuters a military court sentenced him in absentia on Friday to 10 months in prison for insulting the president and the army after he describes the President’s decision. freeze parliament like a military coup.

President Kais Saied suspended parliament on July 25, overthrew the government and took control of most authorities, drawing widespread criticism at home and abroad.

The prison sentence will heighten opposition fears that Saied is seeking revenge on his opponents, after he also dissolved the Superior Council of the Judiciary, the body that guarantees the independence of the judiciary.

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Ayari in a Facebook post described Saied’s actions as a military coup.

“It’s ridiculous. (…) Yesterday Saied declared in Brussels that he was not a dictator and today a military court hands down a prison sentence against freedom of expression against a lawmaker” , Ayari told Reuters by phone from Paris.

Saied’s critics accuse him of seeking dictatorial powers and undermining the rule of law.

Saied said he will defend the rights and freedoms won in the 2011 revolution that brought democracy to Tunisia and will submit a new constitution to a referendum this summer, with new legislative elections to follow in December.

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Reporting By Tarek Amara; Editing by Angus MacSwan and Leslie Adler

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