The forthcoming Tunisian presidential election have fielded a high number of candidates, including the country’s first openly gay candidate, on the final day of nominations, with at least 69 people submitting their applications, AFP reported on Friday August 9th.
"Political ratatouille," the French-language daily, Le Temps, dubbed the electoral manoeuvring ahead of the September 15th elections.
Another 13 people had rushed in their paperwork by midday, joining dozens who have already declared their interest, the country's election commission said.
The election commission will rule on August 31st which of the candidates will have met the criteria to stand, with campaigning due to start on September 2nd.
Originally scheduled for November, the presidential polls in the North African country, have been brought forward, following the death of incumbent president, Beji Caid Essebsi, late last month.
Prime Minister Youssef Chahed, who announced on Thursday August 8th that he would run, presented his application surrounded by supporters, and confirmed he would not resign.
"Anyone who is seeking my resignation is in fact aiming to delay the elections and my resignation means the resignation of the government," he said.
Chahed, 43, the country's youngest prime minister, faces possible competition from Abdelfattah Mourou, of the Ennahdha party, as well as from controversial media magnate, Nabil Karoui.
Tunisian former president Moncef Marzouki wants to stand, as well as Defence Minister Abdelkrim Zbidi, 69, who is vying for a seat in the race, after first resigning.
And, for the first time in Tunisia's history, an openly gay candidate is seeking to be on the ballot. But Mounir Baatour's presidential bid has been denounced by 18 associations, which campaign for LGBT rights, who said that the controversial lawyer does not represent them.