Nearly 100 Candidates In Race To Become Tunisia President

 

Nearly 100 people including the prime minister have thrown their hats into the ring to become Tunisia’s next president, with a last minute rush to meet Friday’s registration deadline.

A total of 98 presidential hopefuls submitted their paperwork by the official 6:00 pm (1700 GMT) deadline, the country’s electoral commission told AFP.

On Friday alone, 42 people registered their candidacy.

“Political ratatouille,” the French-language daily Le Temps dubbed the electoral manoeuvring ahead of the September 15 elections.

Prime Minister Youssef Chahed, who announced on Thursday he would run, presented his application surrounded by supporters, and confirmed he would not resign.

“Anyone who is seeking my resignation is in fact aiming to delay the elections and my resignation means the resignation of the government,” he said.

Originally scheduled for November, the presidential polls in the North African country have been brought forward following the death of incumbent Beji Caid Essebsi late last month.

Chahed, 43, the country’s youngest prime minister, faces possible competition from Abdelfattah Mourou of the Islamist-inspired Ennahdha party as well as from controversial media magnate Nabil Karoui.

Ennahdha won the first polls held after the 2011 uprising which ousted autocratic president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, and is currently the largest party in parliament.

Tunisia has been praised as a rare case of democratic transition to emerge from the Arab Spring uprisings.

But it has struggled with repeated jihadist attacks, along with inflation and unemployment that have hit Chahed’s popularity

Tunisian former president Moncef Marzouki wants to stand, as well as Defence Minister Abdelkrim Zbidi, 69, who is also vying for a seat in the race after first resigning.

And for the first time in Tunisia’s history an openly gay candidate is seeking to be on the ballot. But Mounir Baatour’s presidential bid has been denounced by 18 associations which campaign for LGBTIQ rights, who say the controversial lawyer does not represent them.

The election commission will rule on August 31 which candidates have met the criteria to stand, with campaigning due to start on September 2.

Essebsi’s Death Marks ‘End Of An Era’ In Tunisian Politics – Buhari

This picture taken on July 27, 2019 shows a view of the funerary procession of late Tunisian president Beji Caid Essebsi at the presidential palace in the capital’s eastern suburb of Carthage. Wassim JDIDI / AFP. Inset – President Muhammadu Buhari.

 

 

President Muhammadu Buhari on Saturday joined people and government of Tunisia in mourning President Beji Caid Essebsi who died at the age of 92.

According to him, the death of Essebsi, who is the first democratically elected leader of the North African country, will create a vacuum in the polity.

READ ALSO: Macron, Other Leaders Attend Funeral Of Tunisian President

The President, therefore, urged the citizens of Tunisia to find encouragement and solace in the legacies of their late leader.

“His death marks the end of an era in the politics of Tunisia. The country has lost a father figure,” President Buhari was quoted as saying in a statement by his media aide, Garba Shehu.

He added, “The Nigerian government and people extend heartfelt condolences to his family and the government and people of Tunisia.”

Tunisia Mourns, Advances Polls After Death Of President

Tunisian gather for the state funeral of late president Essebsi at the El-Jellaz cemetery in Tunis on July 27, 2019. Beji Caid Essebsi, the country’s first head of state elected in nationwide polls, died on July 27 at the age of 92/AFP

 

Tunisia is gearing up for snap elections as early as September following the death of president Beji Caid Essebsi, amid uncertainty over who could step forward to run the North African country.

Essebsi, the country’s first head of state elected in nationwide polls, died Thursday at the age of 92, triggering fears of political unrest in a country seen as a rare success story following the Arab Spring uprisings.

Newspapers on Friday paid tribute to “the father of consensus”, while festivals were cancelled and the government declared seven days of mourning.

“Our pain is great, our sorrow is immense,” read an editorial in French language daily Le Temps.

Hundreds of people — some in tears, others singing the national anthem — gathered outside a military hospital in Tunis on Friday as Essebsi’s body was taken to the presidential palace in nearby Carthage.

Within hours of Essebsi’s death, parliament speaker Mohamed Ennaceur was sworn in as interim president, who under the constitution has 90 days to organise a presidential election.

The electoral commission said the poll would “probably” be held on September 15, two months earlier than planned.

Foreign governments including that of former colonial power France have hailed Essebsi’s role in Tunisia’s democratic transition.

Algeria, Libya and Mauritania as well as Egypt and Jordan all declared three days of mourning, while US President Donald Trump in a White House statement paid tribute to Essebsi’s “tremendous leadership”.

The funeral ceremony is to take place on Saturday with French President Emmanuel Macron, Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas and Algeria’s interim president Abdelkader Bensalah in attendance, before Essebsi is buried in his family’s plot in central Tunis.

– Reforms despite turmoil –
The birthplace of the Arab Spring revolts, Tunisia is the only country affected by the uprisings to have pushed through democratic reforms — despite political unrest, a sluggish economy and jihadist attacks.

Islamist extremists have staged repeated deadly attacks since the overthrow of Ben Ali, raising fears for the country’s fragile democracy and throttling its tourism industry.

Following Ben Ali’s departure, Essebsi founded the secularist Nidaa Tounes (Call of Tunis) party, which he led to victory at the polls in 2014.

The party formed a coalition with the Islamist-inspired Ennahdha, which lasted four years before the two parties split.

But Nidaa Tounes has struggled to overcome bitter internal divisions between Prime Minister Youssef Chahed and the president’s son, Hafedh Caid Essebsi, leading to the premier being sidelined from Nidaa Tounes and forming his own rival party, Tahia Tounes.

The president’s death also comes amid a debate over who will be able to run in the next presidential elections.

Essebsi neither rejected nor enacted an amended electoral code passed by parliament in June that would bar the way for several strong candidates including media magnate Nabil Karoui.

Karoui, who has formed a political party, was charged with money laundering this month after he stated his intention to stand.

The presidential election, along with a parliamentary vote that had been set for October, also comes with Tunisia yet to set up a constitutional court eight years after the Arab Spring.

Despite the uncertainty, Chahed hailed a “peaceful transfer of power”, while interim leader Ennaceur vowed that “the state will continue to function”.

But Tunisian politicians and analysts said the failure to establish a constitutional court was a key piece of unfinished business left behind by Essebsi, along with an unprecedented law that would have given women equal inheritance rights as men.

“He was one of the elements who undermined the creation of the constitutional court,” for political reasons, said lawmaker Ghazi Chaouachi.

“He was influential due to his alliance with Ennahda and in 2017 he could have put pressure on that party… to set it up,” he said.

Essebsi also pushed but failed to clinch a vote in parliament for a bill that would equalise inheritance rights between men and women, a sensitive issue touched on in the Koran and which sparked debate.

PM Riadh Ben Fadhel said that Essebsi had wanted this to be his “legacy” but “now it will be very complicated to submit the bill again to parliament.”

 

Tunisia Prepares For Polls After Death Of President

The convoy carrying the body of Former Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi leaves the military hospital in Tunis on July 26, 2019. Essebsi, the country’s first head of state elected in nationwide polls, died Thursday at the age of 92, triggering fears of political unrest in a country seen as a rare success story following the Arab Spring uprisings. PHOTO: Fethi Belaid / AFP

Tunisia has less than two months to organise snap elections following the death of President Beji Caid Essebsi, amid uncertainty over who could step forward to run the North African country.

Essebsi, the country’s first head of state elected in nationwide polls, died Thursday at the age of 92, triggering fears of political unrest in a country seen as a rare success story following the Arab Spring uprisings.

Newspapers on Friday paid tribute to “the father of consensus”, while festivals were cancelled and the government declared seven days of mourning.

“Our pain is great, our sorrow is immense,” read an editorial in French-language daily Le Temps.

Essebsi’s body was set to be taken from the military hospital of Tunis on Friday to the presidential palace in nearby Carthage for a private burial.

Within hours of Essebsi’s death, parliament speaker Mohamed Ennaceur was sworn in as interim president, who under the constitution has 90 days to organise a presidential election.

The electoral commission said the poll would “probably” be held on September 15, two months earlier than planned.

Foreign governments including that of former colonial power France have hailed Essebsi’s role in Tunisia’s democratic transition, with nearby Algeria and Mauritania declaring three days of mourning.

The main funeral ceremony is to take place on Saturday in the presence of several foreign heads of state, according to Prime Minister Youssef Chahed.

Reforms despite turmoil

The birthplace of the Arab Spring revolts, Tunisia is the only country affected by the uprisings to have pushed through democratic reforms — despite political unrest, a sluggish economy and jihadist attacks.

Islamist extremists have staged repeated deadly attacks since the overthrow of Ben Ali, raising fears for the country’s fragile democracy and throttling its tourism industry.

Following Ben Ali’s departure, Essebsi founded the secularist Nidaa Tounes (Call of Tunis) party, which he led to victory at the polls in 2014.

The party formed a coalition with the Islamist-inspired Ennahdha, which lasted four years before the two parties split.

But Nidaa Tounes has struggled to overcome bitter internal divisions between premier Chahed and the president’s son, Hafedh Caid Essebsi, leading to the premier being sidelined from Nidaa Tounes and forming his own rival party, Tahia Tounes.

The president’s death also comes amid a debate over who will be able to run in the next presidential elections.

Essebsi neither rejected nor enacted an amended electoral code passed by parliament in June that would bar the way for several strong candidates including media magnate Nabil Karoui.

Karoui, who has formed a political party, was charged with money laundering this month after he stated his intention to stand.

The presidential election, along with a parliamentary vote that had been set for October, also comes despite the fact that eight years after the Arab Spring, Tunisia has yet to set up a constitutional court.

Despite the uncertainty, Chahed hailed a “peaceful transfer of power”, while interim leader Ennaceur vowed that “the state will continue to function”.

“The people are pleased to know that their country is a democratic state, not an emirate,” former parliament speaker Adel Bsili wrote on Twitter.

An editorial in French-language daily La Presse agreed.

“Tunisians… have passed the test to prove to the entire world that Tunisia is a democratic country.”

AFP

Nigeria Moves 12 Spots Up On FIFA Ranking

 

Third Place winners of the African Cup of Nations, Nigeria have moved up 12 spots to become the 33rd position in the latest FIFA Ranking. 

The ranking which was released on Thursday, saw African champions Algeria move up 28 spots to take the 40th position, making them the biggest mover in the July edition by ranks and points (up 117).

Finalist Senegal moved up 2 spaces to take the 20th position, though they did not make a huge leap, they, however, reached their best-ever ranking position.

Madagascar made a surprising leap, the AFCON quarter-finalists clinched the 96th spot, moving up 12 spaces, they are above Benin who moved 6 spaces to take the 82nd position.

READ ALSO: Cameroon Striker Njie Signs For Dynamo Moscow

With the continental finals of Africa, South America and North America and the Caribbean reaching a crescendo in the past month, the latest edition of the FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking sees a number of significant changes.

Unsurprisingly, the regional kings are some of the primary beneficiaries in the July update.

New South American champions Brazil (2nd, up 1) leapfrogged France (3rd, down 1) in second place and trail leaders Belgium by a narrow margin of 20 points. Other sides in Copa America action improved their Ranking positions substantially, namely quarter-finalists Uruguay (5th, up 3), Colombia (8th, up 5), and Venezuela (26th, up 7) – who reach their best-ever Ranking position after their run to the last eight. Bronze-medallists Argentina (10th, up 1) complete a quartet of South American teams in the top ten.

While the South American sides dominate the upper echelons of the Ranking, there have been significant gains by sides taking part in the CAF Africa Cup of Nations and Concacaf Gold Cup, too.

Concacaf champions Mexico (12th, up 6) and fellow finalist USA (22nd, up 8) made big strides up the table with an honourable mention for surprise semi-finalist Haiti (83rd, up 18).

The next FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking will be published on 19 September 2019.

FIFA rankings

1. Belgium

2. Brazil (+1)

3. France (-1)

4. England

5. Uruguay (+3)

6. Portugal (-1)

7. Croatia (-1)

8. Colombia (+5)

9. Spain (+2)

10. Argentina (+1)

Selected:

15. Germany (-4)

16. Italy (-2)

= The Netherlands (+2)

40. Algeria (+28)

 

Tunisia’s President Beji Essebsi Dies At 92

A file photo taken on November 8, 2018, shows Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi giving a press conference in Carthage Palace near Tunis concerning the cabinet reshuffle. AFP

 

Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi, the North African country’s first democratically elected leader, died Thursday at the age of 92, his office said.

The veteran politician, the oldest head of state after Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II, came to power in 2014, three years after the Arab Spring uprising toppled longtime despot Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and sparked revolts in several Arab nations.

READ ALSO: Embattled Puerto Rico Governor Resigns After Protests

He had been hospitalised with a severe illness in late June and was returned to intensive care on Thursday.

AFP

Nigeria Beat Tunisia To Win AFCON Bronze Medal

Nigeria Grab Early Lead In Tunisia AFCON Third Place Clash
Nigeria’s forward Odion Ighalo (2nd-R) dribbles past Tunisia’s defender Nassim Hnid during the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (CAN) third-place play-off football match between Tunisia and Nigeria at the Al Salam Stadium in Cairo on July 17, 2019. Giuseppe CACACE / AFP

 

The Super Eagles of Nigeria have won their eighth bronze medal of the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON).

Nigerian forward Odion Ighalo handed Gernot Rhor’s side victory with his second-minute goal in the third-place match against Tunisia at the Al Salam Stadium in Cairo on Wednesday night.

The Nigerian forward also dominates the leading goalscorers’ chart with a total of five goals in the tournament.

He is being followed by Algeria’s Riyad Mahrez and Adam Ounas, as well as DR Congo’s Cedric Bakambu and Sadio Mane of Senegal with three goals each.

Despite claiming his first AFCON medal, the Chinese based striker seemed not so good as he limped off the pitch after pulling his hamstring while he attempted to make a pass.

He, however, looks forward to winning the golden boot of the tournament, should Mane, Marez, and Ounas fail to score two goals on Friday.

Few minutes after Ighalo’s goal, Nigeria’s Kenneth Omeruo made a wonderful interception to cut out Taha Khenissi’s shot from the right after the Tunisian was sent through by a great curl from skipper Wahbi Khazri.

While the game was ongoing, the Super Eagles played too deep in their own half, paving the way for midfielders Sassi and Joris Skhiri take charge of the match.

After the restart, the North African side took charge again and were close to a goal just two minutes in.

Khazri sent substitute Firas Chaouat through, but the striker missed a one-on-one opportunity with goalkeeper Francis Uzoho as his shot hit the side of the net.

Nigeria also had a chance to extend their lead when Chukwueze picked the ball at the edge of the box but his effort was diverted behind for a corner by Ben Chirifia.

Tunisia fought hard for an equaliser in the keenly watched match but Nigeria defended the lone goal to return with at least a medal.

In the semi-final matches played on Sunday, Nigeria lost to Algeria 2-1 while Senegal beat Tunisia 1-0.

Algeria and Tunisia will fight for the trophy on Friday at the Cairo International Stadium.

Nigeria Grab Early Lead In Tunisia AFCON Third Place Clash

Nigeria Grab Early Lead In Tunisia AFCON Third Place Clash
Nigeria’s forward Odion Ighalo (2nd-R) dribbles past Tunisia’s defender Nassim Hnid during the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (CAN) third-place play-off football match between Tunisia and Nigeria at the Al Salam Stadium in Cairo on July 17, 2019. Giuseppe CACACE / AFP

 

 

The Super Eagles of Nigeria have secured an early lead against Tunisia in the third-place match of the 2019 African Cup of Nations (AFCON).

The keenly-watched match is ongoing at the Al Salam Stadium in Cairo, Egypt’s capital.

Odion Ighalo fired the Super Eagles ahead of The Carthage Eagles after a poor play by Moez Ben Cherifia who made a weak attempt to clear the ball at Tunisia’s goal post.

Nigeria are battling Tunisia for the bronze medal of the competition after both teams failed to win their semi-final matches.

In the matches played on Sunday, Nigeria lost to Algeria 2-1 while Senegal beat Tunisia 1-0.

Algeria and Tunisia will fight for the trophy on Friday at the Cairo International Stadium.

Tunisia Ends Madagascar’s Fairytale AFCON Run

Madagascar’s forward Charles Andriamahitsinoro reacts during the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (CAN) quarter final football match between Madagascar and Tunisia at the Al Salam Stadium in Cairo on July 11, 2019.
Khaled DESOUKI / AFP

 

Tunisia ended Madagascar’s fairytale Africa Cup of Nations run in the quarter-finals on Thursday with a 3-0 win over the tournament debutants in Cairo.

Ferjani Sassi’s heavily deflected strike gave Tunisia the lead early in the second half at Al-Salam Stadium and Youssef Msakni squeezed home a second on 60 minutes.

Naim Sliti added a third in injury time to send Tunisia through to a semi-final showdown with Sadio Mane’s Senegal, with the Carthage Eagles into the last four for the first time since clinching their only title when they hosted the 2004 edition.

READ ALSO: Algeria Beat Côte d’Ivoire On Penalties To Reach Semi-Finals

Tunisia boss Alain Giresse recalled Wahbi Khazri in attack as the lone change to the side that overcame Ghana in a last-16 penalty shootout, while Marco Ilaimaharitra returned from suspension as Madagascar fielded the same team used throughout the group phase.

Tunisia, the continent’s second-ranked side at 25th in the world, had reached the quarter-finals here without winning a single game following four successive draws.

After matches in Suez and Ismailia, this was a first Cairo outing for the Carthage Eagles, who controlled possession early but didn’t truly threaten until a sweetly struck Khazri free-kick was superbly flicked onto the bar by Madagascar goalkeeper Melvin Adrien.

Ghailene Chaalali forced Adrien to push an awkward low shot behind while Mouez Hassen, apologetic after his angry reaction to being substituted ahead of the shootout in the last round, was a largely untested bar from a long-range Ibrahim Amada effort.

Madagascar was trying to become the first newcomers since South Africa in 1996 to reach the semi-finals, but their hopes were effectively extinguished by the hour.

Khazri saw a goal disallowed for offside straight after half-time, but Sassi struck minutes later when his tame shot from the edge of the area hit Thomas Fontaine and spun past a helpless Adrien.

Msakni then promptly doubled Tunisia’s advantage, jumping on a rebound to slip the ball low beyond Adrien moments after he parried a shot from Khazri.

Charles Andriamahitsinoro, who scored twice for Madagascar in the group stage, looked to be through on goal after a long punt forward but failed to muster a shot. Amada was unable to reproduce his wonder strike from the DR Congo tie as he sliced wide from distance.

This was the first competitive meeting between the countries in almost two decades, and while Nicolas Dupuis has transformed Madagascar from a team once ranked 190th, Sliti’s injury-time goal ensured it was the end of a remarkable adventure for the ‘Barea’.

AFP

AFCON: Tunisia Goalkeeper Apologises For Action During Ghana Clash

Tunisia’s goalkeeper Mouez Hassen (L) reacts to being substituted during the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (CAN) Round of 16 football match between Ghana and Tunisia at the Ismailia Stadium in the Egyptian city on July 8, 2019. JAVIER SORIANO / AFP

 

Tunisia goalkeeper Mouez Hassen apologised Tuesday for his furious reaction to being substituted ahead of a penalty shootout against Ghana at the Africa Cup of Nations.

Hassen, 24, was replaced by Farouk Ben Mustapha right at the end of extra time in Monday’s last 16 clash that Tunisia won 5-4 on penalties following a 1-1 draw in Ismailia.

“I want to come back on yesterday’s incident and I will start first of all by offering an apology to the coach, my teammates as well as the supporters of the national team,” Hassen tweeted, putting his “regrettable reaction” down to the “pressure of the match”.

READ ALSO: No Bid For Pogba, Solskjaer Dismisses Rumoured United Exit

The incident was reminiscent of this year’s English League Cup final when Chelsea’s Kepa Arrizabalaga refused to come off ahead of a shootout eventually won by Manchester City.

Hassen, however, begrudgingly made way for Ben Mustapha, whose save from Caleb Ekuban proved the difference as Tunisia prevailed to set up a meeting with surprise quarter-finalists Madagascar.

“I’m committed to having a positive attitude and cohesive spirit for the rest of my career with the Carthage Eagles,” he promised.

AFP

Tunisia Win On Penalties To End 54-Year Dominance By Ghana

Tunisia’s players celebrate their win during the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (CAN) Round of 16 football match between Ghana and Tunisia at the Ismailia Stadium in the Egyptian city on July 8, 2019.
Giuseppe CACACE / AFP

 

Tunisia defeated Ghana 5-4 on penalties Monday with Ferjani Sassi converting the decisive spot-kick to end a 54-year Africa Cup of Nations losing streak against the Black Stars.

After a 1-1 draw following extra time in Ismailia, Tunisia scored from all five penalties while Ghana substitute Caleb Ekusan had his attempt saved by Farouk Ben Mustapha, who came off the bench especially for the shootout.

Victory was sweet for Tunisia as they had lost six times to Ghana in the African football showcase from 1965 after drawing the first meeting between the nations two years earlier.

On Thursday, the Carthage Eagles play giantkillers, Madagascar in a quarter-final in Cairo with the winners meeting Senegal or Benin for a place in the July 19 final.

Losing on penalties ended a Ghana run of six consecutive top-four finishes in the Cup of Nations and puts the future of coach Kwesi Appiah in doubt.

Four-time former champions Ghana changed two of the team that began a 2-0 win over Guinea-Bissau that enabled them to pip Cameroon for top spot in Group F on goals scored.

Both alterations were on the left side of a 4-3-3 formation with defender Nuhu Kasim and midfielder Afriyie Acquah replacing Joseph Aidoo and Owusu Kwabena.

Tunisia coach and 1980s France star Alain Giresse reacted to an embarrassing 0-0 draw with minnows Mauritania in their previous match by dropping four of the team.

Big Surprise

A big surprise was the exclusion of forward Wahbi Khazri, who had been the outstanding Tunisian attacker in the group phase and scored one of their two goals.

Bassem Srarfi, Naim Sliti and Karim Aouadhi were also relegated to the bench with Ghaylen Chaalali, Ferjani Sassi, Taha Yassine Khenissi and Anice Badri promoted.

After early yellow cards for Ghanaian John Boye, the first player to be red-carded in the group phase, and Tunisian Dylan Bronn, the first half became a cagey, even affair.

Ghana came close to scoring on 16 minutes when a Kasim header struck the post and Andre Ayew fired the rebound straight at goalkeeper Hassen Mouez.

Andre Ayew was convinced he had put the Black Stars ahead on 41 minutes when he backheeled a cross into the net, but the referee ruled that Thomas Partey handled in the build-up.

Replays showed the ball touching the chin of the Atletico Madrid midfielder rather than a hand and the disallowed goal infuriated the Ghanaians.

Midway through the second half Giresse had second thoughts about the composition of his attack, which was making little impression, and sent on Khazri in place of Badri.

Khazri needed just five minutes to make an impact with his brilliant backheel creating space for Wajdi Kechrida to cross and Khenissi scored with a shot that went in off the near post.

The woodwork foiled Ghana a second time when a Mubarak Wakaso shot from outside the box struck the far post 10 minutes from the end of regular time with Mouez beaten.

In the first minute of stoppage time, the Blacks Stars drew level with an attempted headed clearance by Bedoui looped over Mouez, who had strayed off his line.

IS Claims Twin Suicide Attacks In Tunisia Capital

Tunisian security forces gather at the site of an attack in the Tunisian capital’s main avenue Habib Bourguiba on June 27, 2019./AFP

The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for double suicide attacks that killed a police officer and wounded eight people in the Tunisian capital on Thursday, a US-based monitor said.

The “executors of the two attacks on Tunisian security elements” were IS “fighters”, SITE Intelligence Group quoted a statement from the jihadists’ propaganda wing, Amaq, as saying.