Prominent Tunisian politicians vie for presidency

Prominent Tunisian politicians vie for presidency

Tunisia gears up for early presidential election following death of President Beji Caid Essebsi

News Service AA

Following the death of Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi last month, the country is bracing for early presidential election slated for Sept. 15.

On July 25, Mohamed Ennaceur, the speaker of the Tunisian Parliament, became the country's interim president, succeeding Essebsi, who died on July 25 at the age of 92.

The week-long application phase to run for the country's presidential ballot began last Friday, with the Electoral Commission scheduled to announce the final candidate list on Aug. 14.

On Friday, Ennahda movement's nominee Abdelfattah Mourou submitted his candidacy for the presidential election.

"I nominate to safeguard the [democratic] gains of the Republic with a desire to support the state and its institutions and a sincere will to serve the nation and mend the rift," Mourou told reporters.

Mourou was unanimously chosen as the movement’s candidate at its Shura Council meeting on Tuesday.

The candidacy of Mourou, who is Ennahda’s vice president, was proposed by the movement's leader Rachid Ghannouchi.

Earlier on Friday, Prime Minister Youssef Chahed submitted his candidacy papers for the presidential election.

"The president of the republic is the guarantor of the constitution and democratic transition," Chahed told reporters.

He ruled out resigning as incumbent prime minister, despite his candidacy, saying: "Anyone who talks about the resignation of the prime minister wants to postpone the elections."

Neither the Tunisian constitution nor the electoral basic law require prime minister to resign to be able to run for presidency.

'Important moment'

Also on Friday, Mohsen Marzouk, head of Machrouu Tounes liberal party, filed his candidacy for the presidential race.

"My message to the Tunisian people is that the presidential and legislative elections are an important moment in our democratic history," Marzouk said.

Machrouu Tounes party, which currently holds 15 parliamentary seats, was founded in March 2016 after Marzouk defected from Nidaa Tounes secularist political party in late 2015.

On Wednesday, Tunisian Defense Minister Abdelkarim Zbidi resigned from the post to run for presidency.

Zbidi stated that at first it seemed to be a “moral” duty to resign from government work in accordance with the rules of the electoral rules. Secondly, to avoid suspicions regarding the use of state means in the election campaign, which would undermine the transparency and integrity of the elections, he added.

He said it is the first time in his country’s history that a defense minister runs for presidency.

On Tuesday, the Nidaa Tounes movement announced that 36 out of 217 MPs recommended Zbidi 's candidacy for the presidential election.

'Right to choose'

On Wednesday, the country's former President Moncef Marzouki submitted his presidential candidacy documents.

"Democratic Tunisia guarantees every citizen the right to run and the right to choose who represents him," Marzouki told reporters.

He recalled that he was jailed for four months in 1994 during the regime of deposed President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, when he decided to run for presidential election.

On Tuesday, Marzouki said in a radio interview that he had been nominated as president by ten deputies in the parliament.

Earlier, Another Tunisia alliance announced its collective support for the nomination of Marzouki, who served as president from 2011 to 2014.

Another Tunisia is an alliance of two opposition movements, Marzouki's Al-Irada Movement and Wafa Movement, which was launched last May to run in the legislative and presidential elections.

In a statement on Tuesday, the alliance said the components of the two groups as well as a number of independent members decided to support the nomination of Marzouki.

Electoral campaigns would take place between Sept. 2-13, while preliminary results of polls will be announced on Sept. 17.


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