Tunisia’s 92-year-old president, Beji Caid Essebsi, a major player in the North African country’s transition to democracy after a 2011 revolution, has died, the presidency said on Thursday. Essebsi was taken to a military hospital on Wednesday. A leading figure in the country’s fortunes since 2011, Essebsi was hospitalized late last month and spent a week in hospital after suffering what authorities described as a severe health crisis.
“On Thursday morning, the President of the Republic died at the military hospital in Tunis… The burial ceremony will be announced later,” the presidency said in statement.
According to the constitution, the speaker of parliament will temporarily serve as president. Essebsi has been a prominent figure in Tunisia since the overthrow of veteran autocrat Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali in 2011, which was followed by uprisings against authoritarian leaders across the Middle East, including in nearby Libya and Egypt.
Parliamentary elections are expected to be held on Oct. 6 with a presidential vote following on Nov. 17. They will be the third set of polls in which Tunisians have been able to vote freely following the 2011 revolution.
Youssef Chahed, the Head of Government of Tunisia, said on Thursday that a 7-day period of mourning will be held in the country.
King Salman, crown prince send condolences to Tunisia’s interim president
Saudi Arabia’s King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman have sent their condolences to Tunisia’s interim president Mohamed Ennaceur on the death of the late president Beji Caid Essebsi.
“I have received the news of the death of the late President Beji Caid Essebsi of the Republic of Tunisia and I express to you and the family of the deceased my deepest condolences and sincere sympathies,” the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) quoted the crown prince as saying.