Opposition leader Beji Caid Essebsi’s announcement Sunday that he will run for president has sparked mixed reactions from politicians and regular Tunisians alike.
The statement from the head of the Nidaa Tounes party was broadcast on Nessma TV.
According to the third and final draft of Tunisia’s new constitution, potential candidates for president must be between 40 and 75 years of age. Essebsi is 86.
But during an interview with radio Express FM, Essebsi’s lawyer, Abdessatar Messaoud, said that his client stands by his decision, regardless of what the draft constitution states. He added that the eligibility conditions regarding age, as well as a law that bans those who served under the former regime from participating in politics, aimed to bar Essebsi from political life.
Messaoud said that members of the National Constituent Assembly (NCA) should not approve the eligibility conditions for president and that if they don’t reach a consensus, the issue could go to a public referendum.
Essebsi’s decision is a personal one that was not discussed with other parties within the Alliance for Tunisia coalition, including Al Massar and Al Jomhouri, along with Nidaa Tounes. Tunisian news website Jadal reported that members of Al Massar and Al Jomhouri were surprised by Essebsi’s announcement.
Meanwhile, regular Tunisians took to Twitter to share their reactions:
— بالمرصاد (@Boukacheche_TN) 29 avril 2013
“The candidature of BCE (Beji Caied Essebsi) is a scheme to prove that the #TnConst (Tunisian constitution) was destined to be against him, the day he decided to complain #Tunisia”
#BCE , s’il passe, sera le président le plus vieux au monde.
— Skydancer (@Bratchni) 29 avril 2013
“#BCE if he succeeds, will be the oldest president in the world.”
— karim guellaty (@guellaty) 29 avril 2013
“If the candidacy of #BCE aimed to create the craziest political speculations, it has succeeded #Tunisia”