Two Tunisian governors detained on suspicion of graft

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TUNIS - Two Tunisian regional governors have been detained on suspicion of corruption, judicial authorities said on Thursday, hours after President Kais Saied fired them, the latest move against graft.

The public prosecutor's office ordered the arrest of the governors of Sidi Bouzid and Kebili regions on suspicion of "financial corruption and abuse of official authority by public officials", court spokesperson Jabeur Ghanmi said.

Earlier on Thursday the presidency announced the governors' dismissal, without giving details.

Lawyers for the two governors were not immediately available for comment.

Saied dismissed parliament and seized near total political control of the country on July 25, vowing to root out systemic corruption that he says hampers economic reforms.

Last month, a former agriculture minister and seven other former officials were detained on suspicion of corruption.

Saied's intervention in July followed violent protests in several Tunisian cities criticising the government's handling of the economy and the coronavirus pandemic. Demonstrators had called for parliament to be dissolved.

But critics have labelled it a coup that has undermined democratic gains made since the country's 2011 revolution, which ended autocratic rule and triggered the Arab Spring.

(Reporting by Tarek Amara; Editing by Frances Kerry)

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