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Tunisia Islamist-inspired party announces presidential candidate

By AFP - Aug 08,2019 - Last updated at Aug 08,2019

Tunisian Defence Minister Abdelkrim Zbidi (right) is surrounded by supporters after submitting his candidacy for the upcoming early presidential elections in the capital Tunis on Wednesday (AFP photo)

TUNIS — Tunisia’s Islamist-inspired Ennahdha Party announced a presidential candidate for the first time on Wednesday, ahead of polls next month.

“The party’s advisory council has voted by a majority of 98 votes in favour of Abdelfattah Mourou’s candidacy at the presidential election,” Ennahdha said in a statement.

Ennahdha “has taken a historic decision”, council head Abdelkarim Harouni said. “We cannot steer clear of [the polls] in 2019.”

Mourou, 71, was appointed interim parliamentary speaker following the death last month of president Beji Caid Essebsi.

The Ennahdha politician had previously served as the deputy speaker, and changed roles after the then parliamentary head Mohamed Ennaceur stepped up as interim president.

The party’s announcement marks “the first time in its history that the movement puts forward a candidate for the presidential elections”, spokesman Imed Khmiri said.

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

Mourou is known as a moderate and is one of the founding members of Ennahdha, which was launched in 1981.

Presidential hopefuls have until August 9 to register, ahead of the election on September 15.

So far more than 30 people have submitted their candidacy to the electoral commission, including media magnate Nabil Karoui.

He was charged with money laundering in July, after stating his intention to stand in the polls.

Karoui is a fierce rival of Prime Minister Youssef Chahed, who is standing in the presidential vote with his Tahya Tounes Party.

They have been joined in the race by Abir Moussi, who heads a group formed from the remnants of Ben Ali’s ruling party.

She has called for the exclusion of Islamists, including Ennahdha.

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