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News
Date:13 Sep 2019
#TunisiaElections: Get Familiar with the leading Presidential Candidates

Eligible voters in Tunisia will go to the polls on September 15 to elect a president from a crowded field of 26 aspirants to lead the only country to have emerged with a working democracy since the Arab Spring uprising of 2011. 
 
The election campaign started on 2 September and has no clear favourite amongst the 26 aspirants, which include 2 women. 
 
This election comes off two months earlier than originally scheduled due to the death of President Beji Caid Essebsi in late July. 
 
An aspirant needs a majority of votes to win. If none of the 26 candidates is unable secure the required majority, the two candidates with most votes will advance to a second, decisive round.
 
Some of the most prominent names are the incumbent Prime Minister Youssef Chahed, head of the secular Tahya Tounes party; Moncef Marzouki, a past president who served for 3 years after the 2011 revolution; and Abdelfattah Mourou, the first presidential candidate to have been put forward by the Muslim democratic Ennahdha party.
 
Other contenders include a prominent female candidate, Abir Moussi, who leads the Free Destourian Party (PDL).
 
Below are brief profiles of the leading presidential candidates:
 
Youssef Chahed: The 44 years old agriculture engineer and current head of government is considered as one of the youngest amongst the aspirants. He has been the head of government since 27 August 2016. 
 
He was a member of the Republican Party, then the Nidaa Tounes party and is currently the Honorary President of the political party, Tahya Tounes (Long Live Tunisia). He also served as the Minister of Local Development in the government of former president Habib Essid (2016). 
 
He is campaigning on protecting the sovereignty of Tunisia and fighting corruption.
 
Mohamed Moncef Marzouki: The 74 year old was the first to be democratically elected after the 2011 Arab Spring. He served as President of Tunisia from 2011 – 2014 and came second in the 2014 elections losing to the late President Essebsi receiving 44.3% of the total votes cast. 
 
Moncef Marzouki is a doctor of medicine, a human rights activist, an author of numerous works on political philosophy in the Arab world, and founder of the center-left Congress Party for the Republic (CPR). 
 
He is campaigning on anti-corruption, good governance and promoting the interest of Tunisia in its dealings with foreign companies on the exploitation of resources.  
 
Abdelfattah Mourou: The 71 year old is co-founder and vice-president of the Ennahda Party. He is Party’s first ever-presidential candidate since the movement was established 38 years ago. Mourou is lawyer by training and serves as the current interim Speaker of the Tunisian parliament speaker. 
 
Ennahda, the largest political party, a self-described Muslim Democratic party has in the past chosen not to field a candidate in elections in a bid to avoid secular-Islamist polarization. The Party has however been a key player in Tunisian politics since the 2011 pro-democracy revolution. 
 
Mourou is campaigning on his popularity, moderate views and his ability to engage with various political parties and ideologies.
 
Abir Moussi: The 44 year old is one of only two females contesting the presidency in this upcoming election. She presides over the Free Destourian Party (PDL), which presents itself as the pragmatic choice opposed to political Islam.  and 
 
Moussi is a lawyer by profession and upholds the achievements of the deposed former President Ben Ali. She continues to defend the former regime and is known for her denial of the success of the 2011 Revolution. She is a strong advocate for the dissolution of the Ennahdha islamist party in the fight against terrorism, believing that the Islamist-inspired party is responsible for the rise of jihadism that followed the 2011 revolution.
 
Moussi’s campaign focuses on a proposal for a new Constitution, which will give the president the power to appoint the prime minister, currently chosen by Parliament. She also wants to review the country’s debt policy and national security issues
 
Mohamed Abbou: The 53 year old is contesting the presidency on the ticket of the social democratic party, the Democratic Current party. He was formerly a leader of the opposition party, Congress for the Republic under Ben Ali’s rule. 
 
Abbou is a lawyer by profession served as Minister of Administrative Reform after the 2011 elections, but resigned within months. He is known for his civic activism and defending the human rights of ordinary citizens. He was jailed under the ousted President, Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali following the publication of articles that critized the regime at the time. 
 
His presidential campaign is mainly focused on anti-corruption, poverty reduction and job creation
 
Abdelkarim Zbidi: The 69 year old is running as an independent candidate with support from Nida Tounes and Afaq Tounes parties. He is seen as the closest in reflecting the ideals of the late President Essebsi due to his personal loyalty to him during and after his rule.
 
He is a doctor of medicine and has published many scientific academic research articles in the medical field. He held the position of Minister of National Defense in the National Unity Government in 2011-2013, and then in 2016-2019.
 
The main focus of his campaign is to re-establish a strong state capable of protecting and serving the people and able to fight terrorism, organized crime and corruption.
  
Nabil Karoui: The 56 year old media mogul is currently campaigning for the presidency from behind bars after being arrested on 23 August for tax fraud and money laundering.
  
Karoui is an astute businessman and owner of the influential Tunisian Nessma TV station. He is also a founding member of secularist Nidaa Tounes party in 2012 and a major financier the late President Essebsi’s campaign for presidency in the 2014 elections. He quit the Nidaa Tounes and formed his own Party, the Qalb Tounes Party on whose ticket he is currently running on.
 
He is campaigning on pro-poor policies and anti-corruption.
 
Hamma Hammami: The 67 year old politician and activist is the leader of the Popular Front party on whose ticket he is a flag-bearer for this presidential elections. 
The former editor of the party’s news organ El-Badil will be contesting the presidency the second time with this current bid. He is known for his long time opposition to former authoritarian regimes of Bourguiba and Ben Ali, which led to multiple arrests and imprisonment. 
 
His campaign is focused on unity, security and strengthening the sovereignty of Tunisia.  
 
AEP

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