Tunisia protests
Tunisia's Prime Minister was sacked recently after violent protests in many parts of the country Image Credit: Reuters

A controversial Tunisian judge was arrested on Saturday hours after President Kais Saied vowed a relentless campaign against corruption in the country.

The arrest of Judge Bashir Al Akrami comes one week after President Saied dismissed the Prime Minister, froze activities of the parliament for a month and assumed executive powers in an attempt to end the political impasse and address the spiralling health and economic crises.

Saied, who came to power in October 2019, affirmed his commitment to upholding the constitutional principles as he seeks to address the serious failings of subsequent governments and parliament since the 2011 revolution that sparked the so-called Arab spring.

Judge Al Akrami is affiliated with the Islamist party, Ennahda, the Muslim Brotherhood’s political arm in Tunisia, which holds the majority of seats in the currently-suspended parliament and has been part of the government since 2011. The judge is accused of stalling thousands of terrorism cases and hindering investigation into at least two assassination of high profile secular politicians.

The shady exercise of power, the charge he faces, is just one example of the corrupt ways the Muslim Brotherhood’s ruling party Ennahda and its coalition partners have been dealing the country, which led to the popular disillusion with their incompetence and corruption.

The decade-old political paralysis, which is a threat to Tunisia’s democratic process, led to worsening of the recent coronavirus crisis that saw the near collapse of the country’s once-strong health system. The crisis prompted popular protests against the government and the political establishment led by Ennahda. The protests called on the president to take action.

“We are navigating the most delicate moments in the history of Tunisia,” President Saied said shortly after announcing his decisive decisions on July 25. Tens of thousands of Tunisians poured into the streets following his announcement, in a clear message that the people have had enough with the Ennahda rule, its mismanagement of the Covid-19 crisis, deteriorating economic crisis and political infighting.

The Muslim Brotherhood has accused the president of violating the constitution. But Saied, who is actually a constitutional law professor, has made it clear that he was acting within the constitutional framework to uphold the public interests, the right of Tunisians to dignified life and putting the democratic process on the right track after years of being hijacked by Islamists.

To realise these goals, the president enjoys the support of the Tunisian people as well as the regional and international community.