Tunisian opposition leader faces money laundering allegations

TUNIS, July 6 (Reuters) - Tunisia's main opposition leader Rached Ghannouchi has been summoned by a judge over money laundering allegations, his Ennahda party said on Wednesday, accusing the authorities of targeting him for political reasons.

The July 19 summons is to answer questions about the allegations, which Ennahda say are untrue and a result of "distortion and fabrication".

Reuters could not immediately reach a judiciary spokesperson.

Ghannouchi has emerged as the loudest critic of Kais Saied since the president seized broad powers last year, moved to rule by decree and ousted the elected parliament in which the Ennahda leader is speaker.

Earlier this year, Saied moved to take ultimate authority over the judiciary, replacing the body that guaranteed its independence and sacking dozens of judges.

Ghannouchi's court date is less than a week before Saied holds a referendum on a new constitution that he has written broadly expanding his own powers while limiting checks on his actions, a referendum that Ennahda says it will boycott.

Saied has said his actions were needed to save Tunisia from years of political paralysis and economic stagnation, and that his constitution will uphold people's rights and freedoms.

Reporting by Tarek Amara; Writing by Angus McDowall; Editing by Edmund Blair, William Maclean

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