Tunisian President Essebsi has died: presidency

World

FILE PHOTO: Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi attends a summit between Arab league and European Union member states, in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, February 24, 2019. REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany

TUNIS (Reuters) – 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.

Reporting by Tarek Amara; Editing by Alison Williams, William Maclean

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