One of Africa’s oldest leaders, Presidents Beji Caid Essebsi of Tunisia has died at the age of 92.
Essebsi was the first democratically elected leader of the North African country.
Official sources said he died this Thursday July 25, 2019. He was hospitalised with a severe illness in late June and was returned to intensive care unit shortly before he died at the Tunis Military Hospital.
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Before his death, Essebsi was said to be the oldest head of state in the world after Queen Elizabeth II of Britain. He became Prime Minister in 2011 and later in 2014, three years after the Arab Spring uprising through which longtime despot Zine El Abidine Ben Ali was toppled, he became president.
As Prime Minister, he helped draft a new democratic constitution guaranteeing fundamental rights such as freedom of speech, and preparing Tunisia for free elections.
Essebsi, a veteran politician was also popular as one of those who brokered a historic power-sharing deal between his Nidaa Tounes movement and Islamist party Ennahda, a move that helped to stabilize the country at a time several other Arab countries like Syria, Yemen and Libya struggled were ridden in political crisis. Tunisia, therefore, remained a democratic exception among other Arab countries at the time.
But despite his political exploits, opposition forces in Tunisia accused Essebsi of a pot to hand over power to his son, thereby creating a political dynasty, even though he announced shortly before his death that younger persons should aspire to run for the country’s presidential election scheduled for November this year.