Tunisian Saied revokes his predecessor’s passport following French request

Tunisian President Kais Saied on Thursday called one of his predecessors, Moncef Marzouki, an enemy of the country and withdrew his diplomatic passport after demanding that France end its support for Tunisia under his leadership.

Saied is coming under strong international pressure, especially from Western powers, to announce a clear roadmap for a return to constitutional politics after seizing a wide range of powers in July. He unveiled a new government on Monday but gave no indication he was ready to relinquish control.

“Some have gone abroad to undermine Tunisia’s interests,” Saied said, according to the Associated Press (AP), referring to Marzouki who was president from 2011 to 2014. A few days ago, Marzouki participated in a demonstration in Paris, during which he urged French decision-makers “not to endorse a totalitarian system” and called on the French authorities “not to help the dictatorial regime in Tunisia”.

Saied on Thursday called on the justice minister to open an investigation into allegations that Marzouki conspired against state security.

“I will withdraw his diplomatic passport because he is one of Tunisia’s enemies,” Saied said, referring to Marzouki. According to Reuters, he dismissed the Western involvement, saying it was the Tunisians’ business, adding: “We will not allow anyone to intervene.”

A presidential statement said he had informed US Ambassador Donald Blome of Tunisia’s “dissatisfaction” that the House of Representatives’ Foreign Affairs Committee was due to discuss Tunisia in a hearing titled “Examining the State of democracy and the next steps in American politics.

The United States has been important to Tunisia since its 2011 revolution by providing security assistance and working with other major donors to support public finances. Along with other members of the advanced economies group of the G-7, including France, he urged Saied to return to a constitutional order in which an elected parliament plays an important role.

Thousands of people demonstrated in Tunis last week against Saied’s almost total seizure of power, raising fears of further unrest. Its intervention followed years of economic stagnation and political paralysis, but it called into question the democratic gains made by Tunisians during the revolution that sparked the uprisings of the Arab Spring.