The aim of the alleged UAE-sponsored intervention was to depose the democratically-elected Ennahda incumbent party via “a medical coup,” as happened when Tunisia’s General Ben Ali toppled President Habib Bourguiba on November 7, 1987.
According to the same source, Tunisia’s former Minister of the Interior Lotfi Brahem was the main insider contact of the coup masterminds. His role was to act from the inside to ensure “a very successful plot against President Caid Essebsi,” Le Monde afrique reported.
Earlier this month, Tunisia sacked its Lotfi Brahem after 79 migrants drowned in a shipwreck on the Tunisian coast between June 2 and 3. The government officially said that the interior ministry’s “errors in ensuring the security of national coasts” was the reason it sacked Minister Brahem.
According to Le Monde afrique, however, the decision was motivated by “a late night meeting that former Interior Minister Lotfi Brahem recently held with the chief of UAE’s secret services” in late May.
It is believed that the May meeting took place on Djerba island off the coast of Tunisia around May 29, and was the inception of a plan to remove the incumbent government and enact a “complete authority overhaul” in the country.
The “authority overhaul” was set to first persuade President Beji Caid Essebsi to sack Prime Minister Youssef Chahed and appoint former Defense Minister Kamel Morjane as new prime minister. With Morjane as prime minister, the next step was to “re-edit the Bourguiba scenario” by using health reasons and declare current President Essebsi to be “medically unfit” to rule the country.
Thanks to information provided by French, Algerian, and German intelligence, however, President Essebsi, informed of the UEA-backed plot, refused the proposal to appoint a new prime minister, leading eventually to the sacking of Lotfi Brahem.