By Yousra Ounass
TUNIS, Tunisia (AA) – Former Tunisian President Moncef Marzouki has denied charges by a local court of inciting against the country.
Marzouki was sentenced by a Tunisian court on Wednesday to four years in prison in absentia on charges of "attacking external state security".
"The lurking dictator will leave, and the issues for which I was prosecuted will win," Marzouki said on his Facebook page, in a veiled reference to incumbent President Kais Saied.
The former president said that his prison sentence "was issued by a miserable judge on the orders of an illegitimate president."
"I was tried more than once during the reign of former President Habib Bourguiba (1957-1987), and I was tried more than once during the reign of former President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali (1987-2011), and now a verdict was issued against me during the reign of Kais Saied,” he said, vowing to win against the charges which he said were ordered by Saied.
There was no immediate comment from the Tunisian judiciary or the presidency on Marzouki's statements.
However, Saied has repeatedly stated that he is working to serve the interest of his country while also stressing the independence of the judiciary.
In November, Tunisia issued an international arrest warrant for Marzouki over statements he made on Oct. 15 on the International Francophonie Summit.
Speaking on France 24's Arabic channel, Marzouki said he tried to prevent the summit from being held in Tunisia as he believed it would support "the coup," referring to the seizure of near-total power by Saied.
Marzouki, who was president from 2011 to 2014, also accused Saied of dividing the Tunisian people. In response, the Tunisian president threatened to withdraw diplomatic passports from everyone who solicits outside support to "hit" Tunisian interests.
Saied ousted the government on July 25, suspended parliament, and assumed executive authority. While he insists that his "exceptional measures" are meant to "save" the country, critics have accused him of orchestrating a coup.
Saied, who began a five-year term in 2019, rejects accusations that he suspended the work of the Constitution, arguing that he took exceptional measures within the framework of the Constitution to protect the state from an "imminent danger."
*Writing by Ibrahim Mukhtar