Tunisian police arrest two top officials in main opposition party

Mondher Ounissi, vice president of Ennahda party, speaks during a news conference at the party headquarters in Tunis

By Tarek Amara

TUNIS (Reuters) - The two top officials in Tunisia's main opposition Ennahda party were arrested, the party said on Tuesday, the latest targeting of opponents of President Kais Saied.

The interim head of Ennahda, Mondher Ounissi, was detained by police and minutes afterward so was Abdel Karim Harouni, who was placed this week under house arrest, the party said.

Ounissi's arrest follows the publication of audio recordings on social media this week attributed to Ounissi in which he accused some officials of his party of seeking to control Ennahda and receiving illegal funds.

The Public Prosecution Office on Monday opened an investigation into the recordings. Ounissi said in a video on his Facebook page that the recordings were fabricated.

Harouni heads the Shura Council, the highest-ranking body in Ennahda, which was the biggest political party in the parliament closed by Saied in 2021.

The police this year arrested the party's leader, Rached Ghannouchi, the most prominent critic of Saied, as well as several other party officials.

The government also banned meetings at all Ennahda offices and police closed all party offices, in a move Ennahda said aimed at consolidating a dictatorial regime.

Police this year have detained leading political figures, who accused Saied of carrying out a coup after he closed the elected parliament in 2021 and moved to rule by decree before rewriting the constitution. Saied has described those detained as "terrorists, traitors and criminals".

(Reporting by Tarek Amara; Writing by Tarek Amara and Moaz Abd-Alaziz; editing by Jonathan Oatis, Lincoln Feast and Grant McCool)