Tunisia to open registration for presidential candidates on Aug 2

TUNIS: Registration for candidates seeking to stand for Tunisia’s presidency will kick off on August 2, an electoral official said on Sunday, as the country is arranging for a democratic transition after the death of president Beji Caid Essebsi earlier this week.
Essebsi, Tunisia’s first democratically elected president, died on Thursday aged 92, almost five years after he took office.
Shortly after his death, parliamentary speaker Mohamed Ennaceur was sworn in as interim president for a maximum period of 90 days, during which a new president must be elected, according to the constitution.
The country’s presidential election, originally scheduled for November 17, has been put forward to September 15.
The period for accepting applications from potential contenders will run for a week from August 2 to 9, said the deputy head of the election commission, Farouk Bouasker, on Sunday.
The campaigning period has been cut from the usual 22 days to 13 days, Bouasker told the Tunisian state news agency TAP, without details.
“The electoral commission will meet on Tuesday with political parties to inform them of details of the new election calendar,” he added.
Essebsi was elected president in December 2014 and subsequently steered Tunisia through its democratic transition in the wake of the 2011 uprising that toppled long-time autocrat Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.
The North African country is widely seen as the sole democratic success story of the 2010-11 Arab Spring revolts, but has struggled with an economic slowdown, social unrest and militant attacks.
On Saturday, thousands of Tunisians attended the funeral of president Beji Caid Essebsi as the North African nation gears up for snap elections as early as September to defend the democratic gains of the Arab Spring.
Essebsi, the country’s first head of state elected in nationwide polls, died Thursday at the age of 92.
— Agencies