Tunisian opposition politician banned from travel | Tech US News

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TUNIS, Nov 16 (Reuters) – The head of a Tunisian political party that is a prominent opponent of President Kais Saied said he was prevented from leaving the country on Wednesday, fueling concerns about the right to dissent and democratic pluralism.

Fadel Abdel Kefi, the head of the Afek Tounes party, said police detained him at Carthage International Airport and prevented him from traveling, but without any court order.

The move comes a day after police began investigating a domestic journalist for an article critical of the prime minister and ahead of legislative elections that Saied’s opponents have described as undemocratic.

Saied took sweeping powers last year, shutting down the elected parliament and holding a referendum to enshrine near-absolute presidential power bolstered by a weakened legislature in a new constitution.

An interior ministry official told Reuters that a Tunisian court had issued a court order to prevent Abdel Kefi from traveling, adding that the ministry was not empowered to take that step independently.

Abdel Kefi told Reuters he was not aware of any court decision against him. “Is it reasonable for a decision to be made without my knowledge?” he said, and called the measure a “violation of a basic right”.

Right-wing groups warned that Saied’s measures put Tunisia’s democracy and rights and freedoms won after the 2011 revolution at risk.

However, there was no major campaign of arrests or crackdown on dissent, and Saied denied having dictatorial ambitions.

Abdel Kafi has emerged in recent months as a prominent critic of the president’s seizure of most powers, saying he acts like a king and has not improved government or saved the faltering economy.

He also called for most of Saied’s new constitution to be repealed and for the balance of power between the various branches of government to be restored.

Reporting by Tarek Amara; Written by Angus McDowall; Edited by Clarence Fernández

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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