A judicial decision to suspend the head of the “Heart of Tunisia” party, Nabil Karoui, on charges of corruption and money laundering, sparked debate among the political circles, and questions about the future of the government, which the party is one of the components of the political belt supporting it.
Karoui’s arrest comes one day after a meeting between the President of the Republic, Qais Saeed, with the former Secretary-General of the Democratic Current Party, Mohamed Abbou, who had previously called on the president to deploy the army in the country and place politicians under house arrest.
The “Heart of Tunisia” bloc in Parliament considered during a press point today, Friday, that the arrest of Karoui comes in the context of a political battle and settling scores in which the judicial files were used to distort opponents.
Al-Karoui’s case goes back to a complaint filed by the “I Watch” organization, which specializes in oversight and transparency, since 2016, against Nabil Karoui on charges of corruption and money laundering, as the man was previously placed in prison following the recent presidential elections, which he lost to the current President of the Republic, Qais Saeed.
The Heart of Tunisia party warned in an official statement that the issuance of a prison deposit card against its president does not mean conviction, as it is “a normal precautionary measure and a temporary suspension in which the person concerned enjoys the presumption of innocence.”
Political score settling
The head of the “Heart of Tunisia” bloc in Parliament, Osama al-Khulaifi, called in local radio statements to the President of the Republic, Qais Saeed, to “stop being selective in dealing with judicial files,” accusing some of those close to the president’s surroundings of throwing their opponents in prison.
Meanwhile, speculation and verbal warfare between the opponents of the Heart of Tunisia party, the People’s Movement and the Democratic Current and its allies, Ennahda and the Dignity Coalition, escalated about the implications of this decision for the future of the entire government.
The leader of the Ennahda Movement, Rafik Abdel Salam, confirmed in his interview with Al-Jazeera Net that there are some political hands behind the imprisonment of the President of the Heart of Tunis, referring to the meeting that brought together the President of the Republic and the former Secretary-General of the Democratic Movement, Mohamed Abbou, a day before Karoui was arrested.
He continued, “We say to those who are betting on the disintegration of the government belt in support of the Walker, that they are delusional. Indeed, the operation to stop the head of the Heart of Tunisia Party will enhance cooperation between the government team and the parliamentary coalition supporting it.”
The Ennahda leader accused those he described as “the election wounded,” referring to the People’s Movement and the Democratic Current, of seeking to overturn the current political scene that the elections had produced through “conspiracies and intrigue.”
And he warned those “trying to change the political system and bully the president of the republic” that this passes through the will of the people, noting that the political crisis the country is experiencing is due to the electoral law and not the political system.
A new political scene?
The leaders of the People’s Movement and the Democratic Current have praised the suspension of the judiciary of the President of the Heart of Tunis, considering it the beginning of the formation of a new political scene, and some of them went to announce the end of Hicham El-Mechichi’s government and his parliamentary coalition.
MP Mohsen Al-Arfaoui, speaking to Al-Jazeera Net, indicated that the head of the Heart of Tunisia party was imprisoned as one of the components of the parliamentary coalition in support of the Mechanically-appointed government after it.
He pointed out that his party had previously made numerous precautions in relation to the prime minister, and alerted what he described as the extortion campaigns practiced by the party blocs supporting him.
On the other hand, he affirmed his bloc’s readiness to support the Messishhi according to the requirements of the national interest and from the standpoint of constructive opposition, adding, “We hope that the Meshchy will now be freed from the blackmail of Ennahda, the Heart of Tunisia and Al-Karama, and we hope to open channels for dialogue with him.”