Prosecutors in Tunisia have opened an investigation to determine the authenticity of recorded conversations that may have involved a former top aide criticising President Kais Saied, Tunisian media said.
The 11 recordings allegedly feature Nadia Akacha, who was Mr Saied's chief of staff and closest adviser for almost two years before she quit at the beginning of the year.
The woman in the recordings is heard criticising the president and staff members in some cases, and mentions events in the presidential palace and private meetings between Mr Saied and foreign officials since the president seized wide-ranging powers in July.
The 41-year-old constitutional lawyer denied that it was her in the recordings, describing them as fakes aimed at undermining the president.
In January, Ms Akacha resigned citing “fundamental differences in opinion” over the country's interests. Tunisian media have reported she has since been living in France.
She had been Mr Saied's closest aide since he came to office in 2019, and was a major organiser for his 2019 campaign, coordinating with local staff and grass-roots volunteers across the country to push forward his candidacy.
Ms Akacha announced her resignation in a public post on Facebook — the medium often preferred by the Saied regime for communication. She wrote: “I decided to resign after two years … I am faced with fundamental differences in opinion regarding [Tunisia's] best interests and I think it is my duty to withdraw”, without further elaboration.
Last week, Mr Saied said he would form a committee to write a constitution for a “new Republic” in Tunisia, which he intends to put to a referendum vote in July.
He said a national dialogue on reforms would include four major organisations in Tunisia, referring to the powerful UGTT labour union, the lawyers' union, the industry and trade federation and the Tunisian Human Rights League.
Mr Saied launched an online consultation in January, to inform the people of the drafting of a new constitution. Less than five per cent of Tunisians participated.