Tunisian president Beji Caid Essebsi dies at 92

Essebsi was the North African country's first democratically elected leader.

Tunisia’s President Beni Caid Essebsi has died at the Tunis military hospital, the office of the presidency announced on Thursday.

The 92-year-old was hospitalised with a severe illness in late June, but returned to intensive care on Thursday, his son said.

Earlier, Hafedh Caid Essebsi told AFP that “things are not going well”.

The nonagenarian was the oldest head of state after Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II.

He was due to step down when his term ends this November.

First democratically elected leader

Essebsi, the country’s first democratically elected president, came to power in 2014, three years after the Arab Spring uprising toppled longtime despot Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and sparked revolts in several Arab nations.

A veteran politician, Essebsi served as an adviser to Habib Bourguiba, the father of Tunisia’s independence from France, holding a number of key jobs under him and later under Ben Ali.

Over the years, Essebsi was director-general of the national police and interior minister. He later held the defence portfolio before becoming ambassador to France.

He became prime minister after the 2011 uprising and organised parliamentary elections later that year.

Essebsi is the founder and chairman of the secularist Nidaa Tounes (Call of Tunis) party.

In April, he said he did not plan to stand for re-election in polls due to be held in November this year in order to make way for someone younger.

Presidential elections are scheduled for November 17, after parliamentary elections which have been set for October 6.

SOURCES: Aljazeera


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