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Tuesday 20th March 2018

Key Players in Tunisian Presidential Race


7Dnews London - AFP

Sun, 15 Sep 2019 15:46 GMT

Tunisia is holding on Sunday September 15th its second free presidential poll since the 2011 uprising that toppled ex-president Ben Ali, and sparked the Arab Spring. Two dozen candidates, including two women, are competing to replace the North African country's late leader, Beji Caid Essebsi, whose death in July forced the elections to be held earlier than originally scheduled.

As reported by AFP, two presidential hopefuls withdrew their presidential bid at the last minute, slightly narrowing the crowded race.

Here are brief profiles of the key players in the Tunisian Presidential Race:

Prime Minister Youssef Chahed, aged 43, became Tunisia's youngest ever premier in 2016 when Essebsi picked him to head the government as a member of the late president's ruling Nidaa Tounes party.

Due to a power struggle with Essebsi's son, Chahed had to quit the party and form Tahya Tounes (Long Live Tunisia) earlier this year.

Abdelkarim Zbidi, 69, has been Tunisia's Defence Minister since 2107. He held several ministerial posts throughout his political career.

Zbidi said during his presidential campaign that unveiling the truth about the secret apparatus of Ennahda Islamist party, an offshoot of the Brotherhood accused of carrying out political assassinations in the country, will be one of his priorities if he wins the presidential election.

An independent candidate, he is considered to have the backing of the armed forces and of Essebsi's Nidaa Tounes party.

Media mogul Nabil Karoui, 56, was arrested on charges of money laundering, just ten days before campaigning officially began.

In recent years he has used his popular television channel Nessma to launch high-profile charity campaigns.

Ennahdha's Abdelfattah Mourou, 71, is not typical of the Islamist-inspired Ennahdha party which is fielding a candidate for its first ever presidential election.

Interim speaker of parliament since July, Mourou is seen as a moderate who advocates more openness in the party. Political scientist Hamza Meddeb labels him "the least Islamist of the Islamists."

Ex-president Moncef Marzouki, 74, is a lifelong opponent of dictatorship, he became president under Ennahdha after the 2011 revolution and oversaw Tunisia's transition to democracy.

But his controversial alliance with Ennahdha clouded his reputation, leading him to lose the first democratic elections in 2014 against Essebsi.

Staunch anti-Islamist Abir Moussi, 45, was a champion of the ousted Ben Ali regime, is one of the two female candidates eyeing the presidency, and is a passionate opponent of Islamists and now heads the Free Destourian party, a group formed from remnants of Ben Ali's RCD.

Middle East Africa