Tunisia sets presidential election for September 15

Originally scheduled for November, the vote was brought forward following President Beji Caid Essebsi's death.

Tunisia’s presidential election will be held on September 15, the North African country’s electoral body has announced, rejecting calls to postpone the vote after the death of ailing leader Beji Caid Essebsi.

Nabil Baffoun, the electoral body’s chief, told a news conference late on Tuesday that potential nominees must submit their candidacy between August 2 and 9.

The campaigning period will be from September 2 to 13, and the results of the vote will be announced two days after the polls, he said.

If no candidate wins more than 50 percent vote, a second round will be held no later than November 3, he added. 

The presidential race was originally scheduled for November, but the vote was brought forward following Essebsi’s death on July 25.

The new polling date was announced just hours after the electoral commission met the representatives of political parties and civil society, some of whom demanded it postpone the first round of elections to run with parliamentary polls set for October 6.

On Wednesday, the Tahaya Tounes party said it would nominate Youssef Chahed, the country’s prime minister, as its presidential candidate.

The party, which split off from Essebsi’s party this year, is now the biggest liberal group in Tunisia’s parliament.

It governs in coalition with the moderate Islamist Ennahdha Party and a smaller liberal group.

Ennahdha has not yet named its candidate for the presidency.

Other candidates who have announced their intention to stand, include former Prime Minister Mehdi Jomaa, and Moncef Marzouki, who served as interim president for three years after longtime ruler Zine El Abidine Ben Ali was toppled, until Essebsi was chosen in the first democratic presidential election in 2014.

Tunisia was the birthplace of the Arab Spring protests that swept the Middle East and North Africa in 2011, and the only country where those revolts were followed by a peaceful transition to democracy.

Nevertheless, it remains mired in a severe economic crisis that has fuelled social discontent.

Tunisia’s president mainly has authority over foreign and defence policy, governing alongside a prime minister chosen by parliament who has authority over domestic affairs.

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