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Tunisia’s Nidaa Tounes party ‘supports Minister of Defence as presidential candidate’

Secretary of Defense Leon E. Panetta meets with Tunisian Minister of Defense Abdelkrim Zbidi in Tunis, Tunisia on 29 July 2012. [Flickr]
Secretary of Defense Leon E. Panetta meets with Tunisian Minister of Defense Abdelkrim Zbidi in Tunis, Tunisia on 29 July 2012. [Flickr]

An MP with Tunisia’s Nidaa Tounes party announced on Tuesday that it has agreed to support Defence Minister Abdelkarim Zbidi in his presidential bid in September. Fatma Al-Masadi told Anadolu that Zbidi will submit his candidacy papers to the Independent High Authority for Elections by today at the latest.

Nidaa Tounes is regarded as a liberal party, with 36 MPs out of a total of 217 in parliament. Previous statements by the party’s leadership claimed that its members had agreed that its favoured presidential candidate will come from those close to the late President Beji Caid Essebsi and his politics, provided that the person in question is not affiliated with any other political party.

READ: Tunisia’s moderate Ennahda VP Mourou to run in presidential elections

Last week, the election authority announced that the poll to find a successor to Essebsi will be held on 15 September. The application process for candidates opened on 2 August and is due to close on Friday.

Zbidi has apparently obtained the support of at least 15 MPs, including members of Nidaa Tounes, meaning that he has fulfilled at least one condition to run for office. Only last week, he told Anadolu that he would not stand unless he is sure that he can offer something to Tunisia.

According to the electoral law in Tunisia, the presidential candidate must obtain the written recommendation of at least 10 MPs, 40 mayors or 10,000 voters in 10 constituencies.

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