A senior Ennahdha opposition official has been placed under house arrest in Tunisia

PARIS (AP) — Tunisia’s opposition Islamist party Ennahdha said that one of its senior officials has been placed under house arrest by authorities in what it called an illegal decision.

Ennahdha condemned in a statement Sunday the sanction against Abdel Karim Harouni and called for him to be released.

The National Salvation Front, Tunisia's main opposition coalition which includes Ennahdha, said in a statement that Harouni had been placed under house arrest from Saturday evening, one day before he was to take part in a meeting to prepare the party's congress scheduled in October.

The opposition coalition denounced an “arbitrary decision” that comes “in the context of the arrest of the historical leaders of the Ennahdha party, the closure of all its headquarters, and threats to its leaders and activists.”

The National Salvation Front said it “considers this new step to be part of the series of continuous measures attacking democracy and freedoms in Tunisia.”

The move comes after Tunisian Islamist leader Rached Ghannouchi was arrested earlier this year and sentenced to a year in prison for allegedly referring to police officers as tyrants in what his party said amounted to a sham trial.

Ghannouchi, 82, founder of the Ennahdha party and a former speaker of parliament, is the most prominent critic of Tunisian President Kais Saied. He has maintained that Saied’s move in 2021 to take all powers into his hands amounted to a coup.

Saied shut down the Ennahdha-led parliament in 2021 and has since moved to consolidate power amid growing public disillusionment with Tunisia’s democracy.

Police have detained several other opposition figures this year.

The crackdown on opponents comes amid growing social tensions and deepening economic troubles in Tunisia, the birthplace of the Arab Spring pro-democracy movement more than a decade ago.