Tunisia: Crisis over extradition Gaddafi's former right hand

Premier says yes, president has doubts

11 June, 14:41

(ANSAmed) - TUNIS, JUNE 11 - Where the conflicts regarding the difficult question of law and order after the unrest among the Salafis did not lead to an institutional crisis in Tunisia, now Libya's request for the extradition of Gaddafi's second-in-command, Baghdadi el Mahmoudi, seems to have brought Tunisia on the brink of such crisis. The implications of an institutional crisis in Tunisia are hard to predict, because the conflict involves not only the two highest positions in the republic (president and premier), but also members of the two parties (Cpr for Moncef Marzouki; Ennahdha for Hamadi Djebali), which could clash as government parties. Mahmoudi has been held in a Tunisian prison since September last year. He was detained when he tried to cross the Algerian border without an entry visa. The former Libyan premier has been cleared of charges regarding this case, but he has not been release because of an extradition request. It has taken months to prepare the necessary documents and transmit them to the Tunisian authorities. During this time, Mahmoudi was forced to stay in prison despite his acquittal, amid complaints, hunger strikes and treats. The problem is not the charges made against Mahmoudi by Libya, but the guarantees for a fair trial Marzouki wants Libya to give, which have led to a clash with Djebali, who wants Mahmoudi to be extradited. In fact, the Tunisian premier also wants to hand Mahmoudi over to Libya because he wants Tunisia to have good ties with Libya, particularly economic ties. But Marzouki has always been a fervent human rights advocate, and insists on guarantees. This situation has created some embarrassment inside the Tunisian government, even without official position statements. Libya has asked Tunisia why the country is doubting that it will respect the law and human rights, for which Libya has fought and won a revolution. Djebali reportedly agrees with this argument, even though it has put him on a collision course with the Tunisian president. But the cards are on the table and Djabali seems to have a winning hand. In an interview he repeated that he is in favour of extradition and claimed that the president's signature is not even needed for the decision, considering the fact that the Constitution from 1959 is no longer valid. This has upset constitutionalists in the country, who say that the Constitution is valid until a new one is written. But Djebali seems to see the issue as the start of a political showdown. (ANSA).

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