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Tunisia president reimerges in public amid controversy over his health condition

Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi gives a press conference in Tunis, Tunisia on November 8, 2018 [Fethi Belaid/AFP/Getty Images]
Late Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi in Tunis, Tunisia on 8 November 2018 [Fethi Belaid/AFP/Getty Images]

For the first time in more than two weeks, President Beji Caid Essebsi has reappeared in a video posted by the Tunisian presidency on Monday, during a routine meeting with Defence Minister Abdelkarim Zbidi.

The video posted by the Tunisian Presidency on its official Facebook page shows the 92-year-old president in his office at the presidential palace with the defence minister. The president appeared suffering from health problems, and he did not make any statements.

This was Essebsi’s first appearance since 5 July when he signed a presidential order to call voters to the legislative and presidential elections. He had spent a week in the military hospital because of a “severe” health crisis, as described by an official statement.

Before the deterioration of his health condition, Essebsi used to regularly receive politicians, diplomats, heads of organisations, and foreign guests on a daily basis at the presidential palace.

READ: Ghannouchi to stand for parliamentary elections in Tunisia

This reappearance comes amid controversy over the health condition of the president.

Moreover, Essebsi has refused to sign new electoral law amendments, even though the parliament ratified them. Meanwhile, the Independent High Authority for Elections has started on Monday receiving candidacy files for the legislative elections.

“I was honoured to meet with the President of the Republic in the context of the resumption of his activity. It was an opportunity to review the security situation on the Tunisian borders and to present all the activities that we have carried out in celebration of the National Army Day,” said Defence Minister Abdelkarim Zbidi.

“I assure that the security situation is stable and under control with close coordination between the military institution and the internal security forces,” the minister added.

Essebsi had promised earlier after leaving the hospital that he would end his current presidential term, which expires in December.

The legislative elections will be held this year on October 6, while the presidential elections will be held on November 17, in the third elections since the start of the political transition in the country in 2011.

READ: Tunisia extends state of emergency for 1 month

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