Former President Moncef Marzouki Wednesday was sentenced in absentia to four years in prison by the Tunis Court of First Instance. Marzouki’s conviction was due to his “undermining [of] the external security of the State,” according to Tunisia’s national press agency.
Marzouki served as Tunisia’s president from 2011 through 2014. Most recently, Marzouki has received attention for his criticism of Tunisia’s current President Kaïs Saied.
Saied was elected as president in 2019. In July 2021, Saied suspended parliament and fired the prime minister due to national unrest over economic turmoil and the COVID-19 pandemic. Saied has since tightened his grip on power.
Marzouki has called Saied a “dictator,” arguing Saied conducted a coup in July 2021. Marzouki frequently takes to social media platforms to condemn Saied’s regime and encourage protests. He has also called upon the French government to end support of Saied’s regime.
In October 2021, Marzouki urged the Francophonie Summit, a major international meeting of French-speaking countries, to be moved from Tunisia. Following these comments, the Tunis Court of Appeal opened an investigation in Marzouki. Wednesday’s decision sentencing Marzouki to four years in prison reflects the findings of that investigation. According to TAP, Marzouki “has harmed the interests of Tunisia, particularly at the diplomatic level.”
In a statement to Al Jazeera, Marzouki rejected the ruling as illegal and vowed to continue fighting Saied’s regime. Marzouki, however, does not intend to appeal the ruling.