The Tunisian local radio station Mosaique Fm has reported that the Tunisian president, Beji Caid Essebsi, was hospitalized on Wednesday evening due to health issues, as reported by Xinhua. The president was sent to hospitals regarding health issues for the third time in over a month.
President Beji Caid Essebsi, a veteran diplomat and Tunisia’s first freely elected president in decades on the promise to unite the fractured North African nation, has died after being admitted to hospital. He was 92.
Essebie was born in 1926 and he was elected president in 2014. He was the fifth President of Tunisia from December 2014 until his death. Previously he served as Minister of Foreign Affairs from 1981 to 1986 and as Prime Minister from February 2011 to December 2011.
Essebsi was the founder of the Nidaa Tounes political party, which won a plurality in the 2014 parliamentary election. In December 2014, he won the first regular presidential election following the Tunisian Revolution, becoming Tunisia’s first freely elected president.
Essebsi’s first involvement in politics came in 1941, when he joined the Neo Destour youth organization in Hammam-Lif. He studied law in Paris and became a lawyer in 1952. He was a follower of Tunisia’s post-independence leader Habib Bourguiba. He then joined Bourguiba as an adviser following the country’s independence from France in 1956.
From 1957 to 1971, he performed various functions such as director of the regional administration, general director of the Sûreté nationale, Interior Minister from 5 July 1965 to 8 September 1969, Minister-Delegate to the Prime Minister, Defence Minister from 7 November 1969 to 12 June 1970, and then Ambassador in Paris. From October 1971 to January 1972, he advocated greater democracy in Tunisia and resigned his function, then returned to Tunis.
In April 1981, he came back to the government under Mohamed Mzali as Minister of Foreign Affairs, serving until September 1986.
In 1987, he switched allegiance following Ben Ali’s removal of Bourguiba from power. He was appointed as Ambassador to Germany. From 1990 to 1991, he was the President of the Chamber of Deputies.
On 27 February 2011, in the aftermath of the Tunisian Revolution, Tunisian Prime Minister Mohamed Ghannouchi resigned following a day of clashes in Tunis with five protesters being killed. On the same day, acting President Fouad Mebazaa appointed Caïd Essebsi as the new Prime Minister, describing him as “a person with an impeccable political and private life, known for his profound patriotism, his loyalty and his self-sacrifice in serving his country.” The mostly young protesters however continued taking their discontent to the streets, criticizing the unilateral appointment of Caïd Essebsi without further consultation. After the elections in October, Caïd Essebsi left office on 24 December 2011 when the new Interim President Moncef Marzouki appointed Hamadi Jebali of the Islamist Ennahda, which had become the largest parliamentary group.
Following his departure from office, Caïd Essebsi founded the secular Nidaa Tounes party, which won a plurality of the seats in the October 2014 parliamentary election. He was also the party’s candidate in the country’s first free presidential elections, in November 2014.
Essebsi was sworn in as President on 31 December 2014 at the age of 88. He vowed on that occasion to “be president of all Tunisian men and women without exclusion” and stressed the importance of “consensus among all parties and social movements”.
In April 2019, Essebsi announced he would not seek a second term in that year’s presidential election.
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