Tunisia's 92-Year-Old President Essebsi Has Died

Photo: La Presse
Béji Caïd Essebsi (file photo).

Tunisia's president, Beji Caid Essebsi, has died after being hospitalized with a severe illness. In 2014 he became the country's first democratically elected leader, following the Arab Spring.

Tunisian president Beji Caid Essebsi passed away Thursday at a military hospital, the North African country's presidency announced. He was 92.

Essebsi, the oldest head of state after Britain's Queen Elizabeth II, was hospitalized with a severe illness in late June and returned to intensive care on Wednesday evening at Tunis military hospital.

Essebsi came into power in 2014 as Tunisia's first democratically-elected leader, three years after the Arab Spring uprising toppled the regime of Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali.

Concerns on Essebsi's health had been mounting in recent weeks. Politicians had been calling for transparency from the presidency regarding Essebsi's health since he was hospitalized in June.

When his office this week released a video of the Essebsi's meeting at the defense ministry on Monday, he appeared visibly frail on the film.

According to Tunisia's constitution, the speaker of parliament will assume the presidency for 45 to 90 days while elections are organized.

Parliamentary elections are expected to be held on October 9, after which a presidential vote is scheduled for November 17. The elections are the third set of polls in which Tunisians will be able to vote freely.

Essebsi recently announced that he wouldn't run in the presidential election, saying a younger person should lead the country.

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