Tunisia to bring forward presidential polls after Essebsi's death

Interim leader Mohammed Ennaceur has 90 days to organise a presidential election, says Tunisia's electoral commission.

    People gather outside the military hospital in Tunis where Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi died [Zoubeir Souissi/Reuters]
    People gather outside the military hospital in Tunis where Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi died [Zoubeir Souissi/Reuters]

    Following the death of incumbent Beji Caid Essebsi, Tunisia is to bring forward the planned November presidential election by several weeks, the country's electoral commission has said.

    Parliament Speaker Mohammed Ennaceur, who was sworn in as interim president on Thursday, has 90 days to organise a presidential election under the country's constitution, commission head Nabil Baffoun told the AFP news agency.

    That means the poll must be held by October 23. Meanwhile, parliamentary elections had previously been set for October 6.

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    "The question of whether the presidential elections will be organised before or after the parliamentary elections will be decided by the commission," Baffoun said.

    The announcement came amid a debate over the conditions for standing in the elections, which were amended in June but were never approved or rejected by Essebsi.

    The new code would bar several strong candidates from the poll, including media magnate Nabil Karoui, charged with money laundering this month, after he stated his intention to stand.

    Tunisia, the birthplace of the Arab Spring revolts, is the only country affected by the uprisings to have pushed through democratic reforms - despite political unrest, a sluggish economy and violent attacks.

    SOURCE: AFP news agency