Tunisia slashes field ahead of presidential poll

15 Aug 2019 / 11:16 H.

TUNIS: Tunisia’s electoral commission has rejected nearly three quarters of hopefuls for next month’s presidential election, accepting just two women as candidates, it said Wednesday.

The poll was brought forward from November following the July death of president Beji Caid Essebsi, elected in the wake of the 2011 revolt that overthrew former dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.

But one of the women given the green light to bid for the job is Abir Moussi, who heads a group formed from the remnants of Ben Ali’s ruling party.

Among 71 would-be candidates rejected was Mounir Baatour — an openly gay lawyer whose bid was denounced by 18 associations campaigning for LGBTIQ rights who say he does not represent them.

The electoral commission said he was barred because he failed to gather the required 10,000 signatures.

Among the candidates approved for the race were Prime Minister Youssef Chahed and a key opponent, media magnate Nabil Karoui — who was recently charged with money laundering.

The Islamist-inspired Ennahdha party’s candidate Abdelfattah Mourou was also approved.

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

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

Rejected presidential candidates can lodge appeals and the final list is set to be published by the end of August, the commission said. — AFP

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