Tunisia: Businessman accused of corruption, Ben-Ali supporter among presidential candidates

Nabil Baffoun
Head of the Tunisian Electoral Commission Nabil Baffoun, speaks during a press conference in Tunis, Tunisia on July 30, 2019

The candidacies for Tunisia’s early presidential elections began to be submitted at the headquarters of the Independent High Authority for Elections in Tunisian capital Tunis and will continue until 9 August.

The first round of the early presidential elections – which was originally scheduled for November – was rescheduled for 15 September following the death of Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi last month. Eight candidates presented their files yesterday morning, including Abir Moussi, Nabil Karoui and Mohamed Abbou.

Nabil Karoui, a businessman who owns a private TV channel, is presenting himself as the candidate of the poor. He has been recently charged with money laundering.

Karoui – whose candidacy has been preceded by many charity campaigns – was almost excluded from the candidacy after the parliament in mid-June approved an amendment to the electoral law, which, in its new version, forbids the candidacy of all those who gave cash or in-kind privileges to citizens the year before the vote. However, the late President Caid Essebsi did not sign the law before his death, allowing Karoui to submit his candidacy.

Karoui is seen as a serious rival to the Head of Government Youssef Chahed, who has not yet announced his candidacy for the presidential election, although his party Tahya Tounis (Long Live Tunisia) said on Wednesday that he would run for the elections.

Meanwhile Mohamed Abbou, a former lawyer, oppositionist to the regime of ousted President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and Secretary-General of the Democratic Current party – which emerged from the party of former President Moncef Marzouki – also submitted his candidacy.

Abir Moussi is also among those who submitted their candidacies. Moussi is the Secretary-General of the Free Destourian Movement party and is so far the only female candidate for these early presidential elections.

Moussi claims that her party is the heir of Ben Ali and calls for the exclusion of Islamic currents, including the Ennahda Party, from the political life.

The candidacy period ends on 9 August and the Independent High Authority for Elections will announce, on 31 August at the latest, the names of the final candidates for the elections.

The election campaign will then be launched from 2 to 13 September, and after a day of electoral silence, voters will cast their ballots on 15 September. The preliminary results of the elections will be announced on 17 September, according to the electoral program announced to journalists by the head of the Independent High Authority for Elections, Nabil Baffoun.

The date of the second round of presidential elections – which is supposed to be held, if necessary, before 3 November – has not yet been scheduled, according to the head of Independent High Authority for Elections.

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