Tunisia's former president Marzouki sentenced to jail in absentia

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A Tunisian court has sentenced former president Moncef Marzouki to four years in jail on charges of conspiring against state security, the TAP state news agency said Wednesday.

Marzouki, who resides in Paris and was tried in absentia, criticised Tunisia's President Kais Saied earlier this year, saying he staged a coup. He also called on France to end support for the current administration.

Saied suspended parliament and dismissed the government in July, before later appointing a government and announcing a plan for a referendum and elections next year.

Rejecting accusations of a power grab, he said he acted to end political paralysis in a country roiled by a protracted economic crisis.

However, foreign donors have urged Saied to restore normal constitutional order and say democracy and freedom of speech are important to their relationship with the North African country.

After Tunisia's 2011 revolution, which introduced democracy, an elected assembly appointed Marzouki as the interim president, overseeing the transition to a new constitution in 2014.

A human rights activist, Marzouki was defeated in a presidential runoff that year by Beji Caid Essebsi, who took over as Tunisia's first democratically-elected president.

Marzouki ran again for the presidency in 2019 but was knocked out in the first round of voting.

(FRANCE 24 with REUTERS)