Imprisoned Tunisian Opposition Leader Rached Ghannouchi Announces Hunger Strike

Bianca Bridger
Bianca Bridger
Bianca holds a degree in Political Science from the University of Otago, New Zealand. As the Africa Desk Chief for Atlas, her expertise spans conflict, politics, and history. She is also the Editor for The ModernInsurgent and has interests in yoga and meditation.

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What You Need to Know:

82 Year-old Rached Ghannouchi, intellectual leader of the Ennahda Party, also known as the Renaissance Party, announced on Monday his intent to begin a hunger strike in support of six political leaders that have also faced a crackdown from the government of President Kais Saied. 

The Ennahda leader was jailed last year for ‘plotting against state security’ and ‘incitement against police.’ While Ghannouchi was sentenced again to three years imprisonment earlier this month for accepting external financing during Ennahdha’s 2019 political campaign. 

Opposition lawyers have stated that, “While he is fighting the ’empty stomach’ battle, Ghannouchi calls on Tunisians to adhere to a democratic Tunisia that includes everyone on the basis of freedom … and the independence of the judiciary.” 

Initially elected in 2019, President Saied campaigned on a largely populist rhetoric and promised to ‘save Tunisia’ from its economic woes, liberals, and homosexuals. 

However, after large protests erupted in 2021 against perceived police brutality in the country, Saied dissolved Tunisia’s government and froze parliament. This, Ennadha claims, amounts to a coup. 

Mass political apathy has come as a result, with just 7.7 percent of the population voting in the nation’s parliamentary run-off elections in January last year. 

With the country set to hold its first Presidential election since President Saied’s ‘self-coup’ in 2021, it is unclear if the nation’s political apathy will continue come election time in November.