The top performer in last month’s first-round vote was 61-year-old Kais Saied, an enigmatic former constitutional law professor dubbed “Robocop” for his austere bearing. His challenger is Nabil Karoui, a glib, 56-year-old media mogul who spent most of the campaign behind bars on accusations of money laundering and tax evasion that he calls politically driven.
Tunisia’s Defence Minister Abdelkarim Zbidi will amend the constitution if he wins September’s presidential election to end an “unreasonable” division of power between the prime minister and the head of state, he told Reuters, a move rivals oppose. Zbidi, among a few prominent candidates in a field of 26, is supported by some secular parties, but he said in a Reuters interview on Tuesday that he is ready to work with the moderate Islamist Ennahda. He also said he would quickly reopen Tunisia’s embassy in Syria, citing a need for security cooperation and the difficulties faced by Tunisians living there. Despite economic troubles, Tunisia has had a smoother march towards democracy than any of the other Arab nations that tried to follow its example in 2011 by throwing off autocratic rule, and it will also hold a parliamentary election in October. On the constitution, he did not say whether he would prefer to switch to a wholly parliamentary system or a presidential one, saying this was something that should be decided in a referendum. The constitution agreed in 2014 after years of rule by strongman president Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali split power between the president and a government chosen by parliament. Though directly elected, the president only controls foreign and defence policy, while most other powers are held by the prime minister, proposed by the biggest party in parliament. “The constitution disperses powers and decisions between the prime minister and the president,” said Zbidi, 69, speaking in French. “This is
Tunisian police arrested presidential candidate Nabil Karoui on Friday after a court ordered his detention, the Interior Ministry said, in a case involving charges of money laundering but which Karoui’s party said was a politically motivated attempt to exclude him from the election race. Karoui’s own Nessma TV channel reported that the candidate had been arrested as he travelled to Tunis, and broadcast a video showing the police detaining him in his car. Karoui, 56, owner of the Nesma TV channel, is one of the frontrunners contesting the Sept. 15 election following the death last month of 92-year-old President Beji Caid Essebsi – the first head of state to be democratically elected in Tunisia following the popular uprising of 2011. “The indictment chamber charged in the cases of financial corruption decided today to issue two prison deposit cards against Nabil Karoui and his brother Ghazi Karoui,” Saber Horchani, the spokesman for the appeal court, told state news agency TAP. A judge ordered the detention of Karoui to face charges of tax evasion and money laundering, Mosaique FM radio reported. A judge decided in July this year to bar Karoui from travelling abroad after weeks of investigation on suspicion of money laundering. “The police arrested Karoui while we were on our way back from the city of Beja to Tunis,” said Osama Khelifi, a political adviser to the candidate. “They kidnapped the most prominent candidate in the presidential election so that (Prime Minister Youssef) Chahed can win the election in an
Tunisia’s president is recovering his health and speaking to colleagues, authorities said on Friday, signalling a return to normality after a turbulent 24 hours in which the elderly leader fell ill and militants staged attacks in the capital. President Beji Caid Essebsi, 92, a major player in the North African country’s transition to democracy following a 2011 revolution, was taken to a military hospital on Thursday after suffering a “severe health crisis”. His health emergency coincided with attacks by two suicide bombers who blew themselves up in Tunis, killing one officer and wounding several others. The attacks, claimed by Islamic State, took place months before an election and at the peak of a tourist season in which Tunisia is hoping for a record number of visitors. Alarmed by the spate of troubling news, many Tunisians described Thursday it as a “black day”. But on Friday, normal life appeared to be returning. Shops reopened in Charles De Gaulle, a commercial street, and cafes were crowded in the main Habib Bourguiba street. Tourists and Tunisians alike wandered the markets as normal. “We are not afraid, we will not give up,” said a woman who gave her name as Sana. “We will continue our lives and our democracy, which frightens them.” Tourism Minister Rene Trabelsi told reporters that the incident would not affect tourism in the country, adding that tourist sites were under tight security surveillance. “DESPERATE ACT” The presidency spokeswoman said Essebsi’s health had improved significantly and he had called the defence