SAT 17 - 8 - 2019
Aug 8, 2019
The Daily Star
Tunisia defense minister submits bid to run for president
Moderate Ennahda VP Mourou to run in presidential elections
TUNIS: Tunisian Defense Minister Abdel-Karim Zbidi submitted his candidacy for a presidential election on Sept. 15 as an independent Wednesday and said he would resign from government.
Zbidi, 69, who has the support of secular parties including Nidaa Tounes and Afek Tounes, is likely to emerge as one of the frontrunners in the election, which was called early after the death of President Beji Caid Essebsi last month.
Zbidi, a technocrat and medical doctor by training, is considered by many to be above the party politics and infighting that has held back badly-needed economic reforms in Tunisia in recent years.
He looks set to be the most serious rival to Prime Minister Youssef Chahed, who will run as a candidate for the liberal Tahya Tounes Party.
Tunisia’s biggest political party Ennahda Late Tuesday nominated its vice president Abdel-Fattah Mourou as a candidate.
He is the first presidential nominee from the moderate Islamist party since Tunisia transitioned to democracy after the 2011 uprising that toppled veteran autocrat Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali.
Other candidates include liberal former Prime Minister Mehdi Jomaa and Moncef Marzouki, who served as interim president for three years after 2011.
Zbidi served as defense minister after Ben Ali was overthrown until March 2013, when he quit a Cabinet led by Ennahda.
In 2017, Chahed reappointed Zbidi as defense minister.
Tunisia was where the Arab Spring protests that swept the Middle East and North Africa in 2011 began, and the only country where the uprising was followed by a peaceful transition to democracy. Nevertheless it remains mired in a severe economic crisis that has fueled social discontent.
Tunisia’s president controls foreign and defense policy, governing alongside a prime minister chosen by Parliament who has authority over domestic affairs.
Tunisia's moderate Ennahda VP Mourou to run in presidential elections
TUNIS: Tunisia's biggest political party Ennahda named a candidate for presidential elections on Tuesday, the first time the moderate Islamist party has put up a nominee for the post since the country transitioned to democracy after the 2011 revolution.
Party vice president Abdel Fattah Mourou, 71, a lawyer, will run in elections due to be held two months early on Sept. 15 following the death of president Beji Caid Essebsi last month.
Liberal Prime Minister Youssef Chahed will also stand, his Tahaya Tounes party said last week, making him one of the likely frontrunners to succeed Essebsi.
Other candidates who have announced their intention to run include liberal former Prime Minister Mehdi Jomaa and Moncef Marzouki, who served as interim president for three years after autocrat Zine El Abidine Ben Ali was toppled.
Essebsi was chosen in the first democratic presidential election in 2014.
One of Ennahda's most moderate leaders, Mourou has long demanded reforms to the party to make it more open and to distance it from the Muslim Brotherhood in other Arab countries.
Critics say Mourou is two-faced, however, and holds contradictory positions on the role of the Islam in society.
"Mourou is a highly regarded figure in Tunisia, he is able to unite Tunisians and to find consensus between rivals. This is what Tunisia needs now," Imed Khmiri, a senior Ennahda official, told Reuters.
Mourou is currently acting speaker of parliament after former speaker Mohamed Ennaceur became interim president.
Tunisia’s president mainly has authority over foreign and defense policy, governing alongside a prime minister chosen by parliament who has authority over domestic affairs.
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