Tunisia's judiciary says it is investigating the two biggest parties in parliament, Ennahda and Heart of Tunisia, which have both accused President Saied of launching a coup.

Supporters of Tunisia's biggest political party, Ennahda, sit outside the parliament building in Tunis, Tunisia on July 26, 2021.
Supporters of Tunisia's biggest political party, Ennahda, sit outside the parliament building in Tunis, Tunisia on July 26, 2021. (Reuters)

Tunisia's judiciary has said it is investigating the two biggest parties in parliament, which have both accused the president of launching a coup after he cited emergency powers to seize governing control and freeze parliament.

The judiciary, widely seen in Tunisia as independent from politics, said on Wednesday that its investigation started 10 days before the president's moves.

The parties were not immediately available for comment on the probe.

The parties are suspected of receiving foreign funds during the 2019 election campaign, a judicial source told Reuters news agency. 

The investigation was opened on July 14, before President Kais Saied used emergency powers to sack the prime minister and freeze parliament.

Though the investigation does not appear linked to Saied's actions and Tunisia's judiciary spoke out on Monday to insist it remain independent, but it will add to the pressure on both the political parties.

READ MORE: Tunisia's Ennahda party ready for early elections 'for sake of democracy'

Deeply fragmented parliament

Ennahda and media mogul Nabil Karoui's Heart of Tunisia are the two largest parties in the deeply fragmented parliament elected in September 2019. 

The other party under investigation is the smaller Ayich Tounes.

Ennahda leader Rached Ghannouchi, the parliament speaker, and Karoui, were opponents of Saied in a separate presidential election that took place over two rounds in September and October of 2019.

Karoui, who owns a big private TV station, also faces a long-running investigation into other accusations of financial offences that led to his remand in custody during much of the 2019 election campaign and again this year.

Saied – an independent – campaigned in 2019 as a new broom against what he painted as a corrupt, stagnant political elite focused on its own narrow interests and responsible for a decline in Tunisian living standards after the 2011 revolution.

READ MORE: World reacts to Tunisia political crisis after shock dismissal of govt

READ MORE: Will Tunisia’s economic pain be eased after Saied’s power grab?

Source: Reuters