Tunisian President, Beji Essebsi, dies at 92

President Beji Caid Essebsi was Tunisia's first democratically elected leader [File: Bernd von Jutrczenka
President Beji Caid Essebsi was Tunisia's first democratically elected leader [File: Bernd von Jutrczenka

Tunisia’s 92-year-old president, Beji Caid Essebsi, has died, the presidency said in a statement on Thursday.

Mr Essebsi, a major player in the country’s transition to democracy since 2011, had been hospitalised late last month and spent a week in hospital after suffering a “severe health crisis”.

The president only appeared twice since leaving the hospital on July 1, and was then again taken into a military hospital on Wednesday.

His office released a video of the president meeting with the defense minister on Monday, and Mr Essebsi was visibly weakened, raising concerns about his fitness for office.

Rached Ghannouchi, President of the Ennahdha party, said in a statement that Essebsi “was a true patriot” of Tunisia.

“He made history as the first elected president of Tunisia’s Second Republic.

“He would have wanted all Tunisians to uphold the Constitution and rule of law and to maintain our democratic path, no matter what challenges we face.

“We call on all Tunisians to support and be part of the peaceful transition of power in accordance with our constitution, the rule of law and the protection of our democratic institutions.”

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Under the country’s constitution, the president of the parliament will assume the presidency for 45 to 90 days while elections are organised.

Mr Essebsi won office in 2014 in the wake of the country’s Arab Spring uprising.

He recently announced that he would not run in the election scheduled for November, saying a younger person should lead the country.



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