The number of candidacies for the Tunisian presidential elections yesterday reached 69, just hours before the closure of submissions at the headquarters of the Independent High Authority for Elections.
The First Vice President of the Assembly of the Representatives of the People, Abdelfattah Mourou – who was nominated by the Ennahda Movement – and Prime Minister Youssef Chahed – nominated by his party Long Live Tunisia – submitted their candidacies yesterday morning, according to Agence France Presse (AFP).
Chahed said in statements to reporters after submitting his candidacy that he will not resign from the government, insisting that "those who want me to submit my resignation want to postpone the elections, and my resignation means the resignation of the government which is considered an evasion of responsibility".
Seventy-one-year-old Mourou submitted his candidacy along with Ennahda leader Rached Ghannouchi, dressed as usual in a traditional Tunisian "Jubba," and told reporters that his candidacy is aimed at "serving the country".
Mourou – who is known for his moderate positions within the Ennahda Movement – took the position of First Vice President of the Assembly of the Representatives of the People, succeeding Mohamed Ennaceur who was appointed as an interim president after the death of Beji Caid Essebsi on 25 July.
The Independent High Authority for Elections later announced a change in the presidential election calendar, moving the election forward to September.
Defence Minister Abdelkarim Zbidi also submitted his candidacy for the presidential elections with the support of the Nidaa Tounes party. Zbidi had frequently met with Essebsi before his death and was one of the most prominent nominated successors to the president.
Businessperson and media figure Nabil Karoui also submitted his candidacy for the elections, promising to defend the poor, despite being charged with money laundering.
The election campaign is set for 2-13 September. After a day of "electoral silence", voters will then cast their ballots on 15 September. Preliminary results will be announced on 17 September, according to the electoral program that the head of the Independent High Authority for Elections, Nabil Baffoun, announced to journalists.