TUNIS: Tunisian Prime Minister Youssef Chahed will stand in the country’s upcoming presidential election, his party announced Wednesday, days after the death of incumbent Beji Caid Essebsi.
“Chahed is the candidate of the Tahia Tounes party” for the September 15 election, spokesman Ali Baccar said.
The prime minister will discuss his candidature “after the end of the (seven-day) mourning period” for Essebsi, who died last week aged 92.
Originally scheduled for November, the vote was brought forward following Essebsi’s death on July 25.
Presidential hopefuls must formally submit their candidacy between August 2 and August 9.
Launched at the start of the year, Chahed’s Tahia Tounes has become the second largest party in parliament, behind Islamist-inspired Ennahdha.
In recent months, the 43-year-old Chahed’s popularity has fallen as his government struggles to reduce inflation and unemployment.
Chahed, who studied agricultural engineering, entered politics after Tunisia’s 2011 uprising which ousted autocratic president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.
He was picked by Essebsi in 2016 to head the government, as a member of the president’s ruling Nidaa Tounes party.
But internal conflicts — including a power struggle between Chahed and the late president’s son — led the premier to quit the party and form Tahia Tounes.
Chahed is the longest serving prime minister since the Tunisian revolution.