Tunisian opposition figure Moussi begins hunger strike in prison

TUNIS (Reuters) – Abir Moussi, a prominent opponent of Tunisian President Kais Saied, went on a hunger strike in prison on Tuesday to protest what her lawyers said was a violation of her rights to freedom and political activity.

A judge last month ordered Moussi’s imprisonment after police arrested her at the presidential palace entrance‮ ‬on suspicion of assault intended to cause chaos, part of a crackdown on opposition politicians.

Moussi is the leader of the Free Constitutional Party (PDL), which warned in a statement against “attempts to fabricate legal obstacles to remove her from participating in the presidential elections” expected next year.

Her lawyers said in a statement that Moussi would be on hunger strike for 16 days, coinciding with a campaign to highlight violence against women in Tunisia.

Police this year have detained more than 20 leading political figures, accusing some of plotting against state security.

Saied has described those detained as “terrorists, traitors and criminals”.

Saied, a retired law professor who was elected president in 2019, shut down the elected parliament in 2021 and moved to rule by decree, actions his opponents described as a coup and which he rejects.

In recent months, the PDL has organised protests against Saied. Moussi accuses Saied of ruling outside the law.

Moussi is a supporter of late president Zine El Abidine ben Ali who was toppled by mass protests in 2011, an uprising that later spread throughout the Middle East and became known as “the Arab Spring”.

(Reporting by Tarek Amara; editing by Grant McCool)