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Tunisia’s President Beji Caid Essebsi Dies In Hospital

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Tunisia’s 92-year-old president passed away Thursday, The New Arab’s Tunisia correspondent reported quoting the presidency.

President Beji Caid Essebsi had been taken to a military hospital for the third time in recent weeks, Tunisian media announced earlier in the day, reviving fears of a power vacuum ahead of November polls.

Radio station Mosaique and state broadcaster Wataniya have reported Beji Caid Essebsi was hospitalised Wednesday night for unspecified health trouble.

Essebsi’s son told AFP Thursday the leader “is in intensive care at the military hospital and things are not going well”.

Essebsi was hospitalised twice in June. His office released a video of the president meeting with the defence minister Monday, and Essebsi was visibly weakened, raising concerns about his fitness for office.

He recently announced he wouldn’t run in the election scheduled for November, saying a younger person should lead the country.

Essebsi is Tunisia’s first democratically-elected president, having won office in 2014 in the wake of the country’s Arab Spring uprising. 

Essebsi’s secularist Nidaa Tounes won the 2014 elections and formed a coalition with the Islamist Ennahdha party that lasted four years before the two parties split.

Presidential elections are due on 17 November, after parliamentary elections which have been scheduled for 6 October.

Tunisia, whose 2011 revolt toppled longtime dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and sparked the Arab Spring uprisings, has been hailed as a model of democratisation in the Arab world, but has faced economic woes and jihadi attacks.

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