Tunisia’s 92-year-old president, Beji Caid Essebsi, has died, the presidency said in a statement on Thursday.
Essebsi, a major player in the country’s transition to democracy since 2011, had been hospitalised late last month and spent a week in hospital after suffering a “severe health crisis”.
The president only appeared twice since leaving the hospital on 1 July, and was then again taken into a military hospital on Wednesday.
His office released a video of the president meeting with the defense minister on Monday, and Essebsi was visibly weakened, raising concerns about his fitness for office.
Rached Ghannouchi, President of the Ennahdha party, said in a statement that Essebsi “was a true patriot” of Tunisia.
“He made history as the first elected president of Tunisia’s Second Republic.
“He would have wanted all Tunisians to uphold the Constitution and rule of law and to maintain our democratic path, no matter what challenges we face.
“We call on all Tunisians to support and be part of the peaceful transition of power in accordance with our constitution, the rule of law and the protection of our democratic institutions.”
Under the country’s constitution, the president of the parliament will assume the presidency for 45 to 90 days while elections are organised.
Essebsi won office in 2014 in the wake of the country’s Arab Spring uprising.
Tunisian defense minister, British ambassador discuss Libyan crisis
Tunisian Defense Minister Imed Hazgui received on Wednesday British Ambassador to Tunisia Louise De Sousa at the ministry’s headquarters in the capital Tunis, reported Tunis Afrique Presse (TAP).
The meeting focused on ways to strengthen military cooperation between the two countries as well as developments on the regional scene.
The Tunisian minister stressed the need to promote military cooperation and to diversify its components in an atmosphere of mutual trust.
Hazgui reiterated Tunisia’s position which calls for a rapid and comprehensive solution to the crisis in Libya via national dialogue and within the framework of respect for international legitimacy.
“The solution to the Libyan crisis should be based on the agreement of all its factions away from any foreign interference,” TAP quoted the minister as saying.
She affirmed her country’s readiness to strengthen the capacities of the Tunisian army in all areas and to promote cooperation between the two countries.
Tunisian PM says gov’t committed to push forward reforms
Tunisian Prime Minister Elyes Fakhfakh affirmed Wednesday that the government is determined to move forward on the path of major reforms, in particular the digitization of public administration.
Fakhfakh made the remarks at a ceremony held at the headquarters of the government in capital Tunis on the occasion of Eid al-Fitr, also stressing the importance of “preparing well for the post–coronavirus phase.”
So far, the total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the country stood at 1,051.
The Tunisian government has imposed strict confinement measures shortly after the announcement of the first coronavirus case on March 2.
Tunisian PM vows to exit COVID-19 outbreak with slightest damage
Tunisian Prime Minister Elyes Fakhfakh said on Sunday that his country is preparing to exit the stage of COVID-19 outbreak with the slightest damage.
The official TAP news agency quoted the prime minister as saying that “Tunisia, which has succeeded in controlling COVID-19, is about to exit from the outbreak stage with the slightest damage after registering more than 1,000 cases and most them have recovered.”
He also stressed the continuation of the national effort to fight against COVID-19 during the summer period.
As of May 24, Tunisia reported a total of 1,048 confirmed cases of COVID-19, including 48 deaths.
The government has imposed strict confinement measures shortly after the announcement of the first coronavirus case in the country on March 2.
Tunisian PM unveils post-coronavirus economic recovery plan
The program is based on strengthening national sovereignty and security, preserving the economic fabric, working to revitalize the most affected sectors and fighting against corruption and impunity.
“This program will be presented to the parliament at the end of next month,” said Fakhfakh, stressing that the government will work hard to mobilize the country’s own resources to boost the economy.
The prime minister called upon all Tunisians to preserve the gains attained during the first phase of partial lifting of lockdown and to respect all measures taken by the government to combat COVID-19.
On May 4, Tunisia started the first stage of the national strategy for partial lifting of lockdown which includes three stages, from May 4 to 24, from May 24 to June 4 and from June 4 to 14.
On Tuesday, one new COVID-19 case and one more death were reported in Tunisia, bringing the total number of cases to 1,044 with 47 deaths.
The number of recoveries rose to 826, according to the Ministry of Health.
Tunisian government imposes curfew to curb spread of COVID-19
Tunisians do shopping ahead of Eid al-Fitr in Tunis, Tunisia
Tunisians do shopping ahead of Eid al-Fitr, a Muslim feast holiday marking the end of the holy month of Ramadan, in Tunis, Tunisia, May 19, 2020. (Photo by Adel Ezzine/Xinhua)
Tunisian minister warns against 2nd wave of coronavirus outbreak
Tunisian Health Minister Abdellatif Mekki warned on Wednesday that her country is “not immune to a second wave of the novel coronavirus epidemic.”
“We have managed to control the first wave of this pandemic, but it remains a temporary and sensitive result as it depends on citizens’ conduct and commitment during the next period,” Mekki said at a press conference at the government’s headquarters in the capital Tunis.
The health ministry will keep on identifying suspected cases to prevent a second wave, he added.
“Thanks to the national strategy, Tunisia has been able to avoid more than 25,000 infections and more than 1,000 deaths,” Mekki said.
Earlier in the day, Lobna Jribi, Tunisian Minister in charge of major national projects, announced that the nationwide lockdown measures will be phased out starting May 4.
However, people over 65, children under 15, pregnant women, and those with immune deficiency are excluded.
Tunisia has so far reported 975 COVID-19 cases.
Tunisian tennis player mulls swapping rackets for dancing shoes in lockdown
She said the essence of this was to remain fit as the tennis world finds innovative ways to deal with the lockdown.
The 25-year-old became the first Tunisian and the first Arab woman to make a Grand Slam quarter-final at the 2020 Australian Open in Melbourne.
She lost to eventual champion Sofia Kenin of the U.S.
Jabeur also reached the last eight of the Qatar Open in Doha and is currently on a career-high world ranking of 39.
But her rapid rise has been somewhat checked with the tennis season currently suspended.
This will be until at least mid-July, with both the claycourt season and grasscourt events wiped out due to the coronavirus-induced travel restrictions.
“I’m not allowed to eat much as I’m not moving much.
“I like to dance, maybe it’s time for me to do some dancing in the apartment. Hopefully the neighbours will not kick us out. But for now we are good.
“Cooking is for my husband. Watching lots of films is what we do right now, eating some popcorn also,” a smiling Jabeur said in a video interview posted on the official Australian Open Twitter handle.”
Over 336,000 people have tested positive for the new coronavirus and more than 9,500 have died in the U.S., according to a Reuters tally, with New York the worst affected.
Jabeur could not make her way back home to Tunisia with countries locking down their borders and imposing travel restrictions to contain the spread of the virus.
In the meantime, she is running a social media challenge for fans in Tunisia, asking them to send videos featuring tennis at home.
Jabeur said she is receiving lot of funny videos and the winner will win one of her rackets.
“I’m kind of stuck in U.S. But maybe I love being stuck here. I’m just here with my husband, who also happens to be my fitness coach. “He’s trying to make me work out.
“The only thing we are missing is practising tennis. That’s the only thing we are not doing right now,” she said.
Edited By: Kevin Okunzuwa and Olawale Alabi)
UAE leaders congratulate Tunisian President on Independence Day
President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan has sent a message of congratulations to President Kais Saied of Tunisia, on the occasion of his country's Independence Day.
His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, and His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, dispatched two similar messages to the Tunisian leader.
His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid and His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed also cabled congratulations to Elyes Fakhfakh, Prime Minister of Tunisia.
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