Moncef Marzouki, former president of Tunisia, is a wanted man, as his successor has issued an international arrest notice on an undisclosed charge.
Moncef Marzouki was the president of Tunisia for just three years, from 2011 to 2014. He was appointed to the position by a nearly unanimous vote of the Constituent Assembly as an interim president, but was never elected. In 2014, he lifted the state of emergency order that had seen him placed in office and handed the reins over to Beiji Caid Essebsi, the victor in the 2014 election, without drama.
Marzouki was an activist and a physician prior to his appointment. While president, he established Tunisia’s Truth and Dignity Commission, cut his own pay by more than 60 percent while the government dealt with a deteriorating budget, and condemned censorship over a case where a TV network and several performers were punished for dubbing and airing the film Persepolis.
Since leaving office, he has participated in pro-Palestine activism in Israel and was appointed by the African Union to mediate the presidential election in the island nation Comoros.
All of which makes the arrest warrant out for Marzouki feel ominous. The administration of current President Kais Saied has not made any comment about why it is calling for his arrest, nor about why they stripped him of his passport a few days prior. The only verifiable information is that in October, Saied ordered an inquiry into Marzouki on a matter of state security.
Saied has faced increasing criticism lately as he has gathered more authority under the presidential seal, including ignoring constitutional statutes as he’s taken near-total governmental power. Marzouki, who is not surprised by the arrest order, has openly called Saied’s recent actions a coup.
Marzouki, in talking to Al Jazeera TV from his current location in France, called his arrest order “a threatening message to all Tunisians.”