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Tunisia: Beji Caid Essebsi – first democratically elected president dies

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Tunisia: Beji Caid Essebsi – first democratically elected president dies

(Breaking News)  – Tunisia’s President Beji Caid Essebsi, Africa’s oldest sitting president and the world’s second oldest head of state after England’s Queen Elizabeth II, has died at the age of 92.

The death of Beji Caid Essebsi comes just months before the country is to go to the polls in October. He had already declared he would not be standing for another term.

But Essebsi was a political old hand in Tunisian politics.

He started his political career in 1956 as an advisor to Tunisia’s independence leader Habib Bourguiba. He subsequently served as interior, Defence and Foreign Minister. Caid Essebsi was appointed Interim Prime Minister following the overthrow of President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in January 2011.

After standing down, he brought together various secular and former regime figures to form the Nidaa Tounes party, which eventually won Tunisia’s parliamentary elections and on whose ticket he won the country’s first free presidential elections in December 2014.

In recent months, Essebsi passed some popular new laws, including those pertaining to, and giving women more rights through modernisation of the country’s ‘code de la femme’

Just last week, he refused to sign a new law that would have banned a number of leading personalities from presenting themselves as candidates in the upcoming general elections.

As per the country’s constitution, Mohamed Ennaceur – The President of the House – will succeed him in the interim. However, local media reports say Ennaceur himself was recently hospitalised and is said to be in poor health.

 

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Breaking News. Updates on this story will follow.

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Written by Regina Jane Jere

reGina Jane Jere is a Zambian-born London-based journalist and founding Editor of the New African Woman magazine the sister-publication of the New African magazine of which she was the Deputy Editor for over a decade. The mother of two juggles a wide-range of editorial and managerial duties, but she has particular passion on women’s health, education, rights and empowerment. She is also a former Zambian correspondent for Agence France Presse, and a former Africa Researcher at Index on Censorship. She writes extensively on a wide range of issues, from politics to women’s rights, media and free speech to beauty and fashion.

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