Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi dies at 92 after battling illness

Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi dies at 92 after battling illness

- Tunisia's President Beji Caid Essebsi has died

- The ailing president had been admitted at the ICU on Wednesday, July 24, with his son stating his condition was not good

- His office confirmed he died on the morning of Thursday, July 25

- Essebsi was Tunisia's first democratically-elected president in 2014

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Tunisia’s first democratically-elected President, Beji Caid Essebsi, has died aged 92.

Essebsi, who was taken to hospital with an undisclosed severe illness in late June, returned to an intensive care unit early on Wednesday, July 24.

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Tunisia President Beji Caid Essebsi dies aged 92

Tunisia’s first democratically elected president, Beji Caid Essebsi, has died aged 92. Photo: BBC
Source: UGC

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One of the world's oldest leaders, Essebsi's office confirmed he breathed his last at the Tunis Military Hospital on Thursday, July 25, BBC reported.

He was admitted to hospital in June after suffering what officials said was a severe health crisis without giving further details.

The country's Prime Minister Youssef Chahed, who visited him in hospital then, urged people to stop spreading fake news about his condition.

His death has revived fears of a power vacuum before the presidential elections, which are scheduled for November 17 after parliamentary elections on October 6.

Tunisia's constitution, adopted in 2014, provides two measures in the case of a power vacuum.

The prime minister can take over the president's responsibilities for a period of no more than 60 days and, if the vacancy is longer, the speaker of parliament is tasked with the role for up to 90 days.

In both cases, the decision must be taken by a constitutional court after it validates the president's incapacity.

But eight years after the Arab Spring, Tunisia has yet to set up a constitutional court.

Essebsi won Tunisia's first free elections in 2014 three years after the Arab Spring uprising that triggered revolts in several Arabic countries.

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

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

Over the years, he 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 also the founder and chair of the secularist Nidaa Tounes (Call of Tunis) party.

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Source: Briefly.co.za

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