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Tunisia’s Prime Minister Chahed announces presidential candidacy

Tunisia's Prime Minister Chahed announces presidential candidacy

Tunisia’s Prime Minister Youssef Chahed announced Thursday he would stand in presidential elections next month.

“I have thought hard and decided to put myself forward for the position of President of the Republic,” he said during an assembly of his Tahya Tunis party.

The 43-year-old, Tunisia’s youngest Prime Minister, faces possible competition from Abdelfattah Mourou of the Ennahdha party and controversial media magnate Nabil Karoui.

Originally scheduled for November, the vote was brought forward following the death of incumbent Beji Caid Essebsi on July 25.

Chahed said he wanted to “break with the old system and give hope to all Tunisians, including young people, that they can take on important positions in the state.”

Launched at the start of the year, Chahed’s Tahya Tounes has become the second-largest party in parliament behind Ennahdha.

Tahya Tounes said last week, the premier would be their candidate for the presidential polls.

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

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

The agricultural engineering graduate entered politics after Tunisia’s 2011 uprising which ousted autocratic President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.

Presidential hopefuls have until Friday to register for the election on September 15.

Over 50 people had registered their candidacy by Thursday.

They include Abir Moussi, who heads a group formed from the remnants of Ben Ali’s ruling party and has called for Islamists including Ennahdha to be excluded from the poll.

On Thursday, openly gay lawyer Mounir Baatour announced he would stand in the elections, a first for the Arab world.

The electoral commission is set to announce on August 31 which candidates it will allow to run in the poll.

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