The United States on Wednesday denied financing the Tunisian president’s 2019 election campaign, after accusations from an Islamist lawmaker against the backdrop of a political crisis in the North African country.
“The US Government did not provide funding to President Kais Saied’s presidential campaign. The United States reaffirms its respect for the integrity and sovereignty of Tunisian democracy,” the US embassy in Tunis tweeted.
Without providing evidence, lawmaker Rached Khiari alleged on social media that he had documents proving Saied had received up to $5 million from the CIA for his election bid via his campaign director.
Khiari is aligned with the Islamist movement Karama, which is part of the country’s governing coalition that includes the Islamist-inspired Ennahdha.
Authorities have opened an investigation.
Khiari last year courted controversy when he appeared to defend the beheading of a French schoolteacher who had shown his pupils satirical cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed.
Saied, a socially conservative law professor elected in October 2019 on the revolutionary slogan “the people want”, has for months been at loggerheads with Ennahdha, the top force in parliament.
The standoff comes as Tunisia has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic and its social and economic repercussions.