Tunisia president Essebsi says he does not want to run for a second term

Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi gives a speech during the launch of his party Nidaa Tounes' congress in the coastal city of Monastir, about 160 kilometres south of the capital Tunis, on April 6, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 06 April 2019

Tunisia president Essebsi says he does not want to run for a second term

  • Mass protests that toppled ailing President Abdelaziz Bouteflika in Algeria have stirred the opposition in Tunisia
  • Social media campaigns have begun rejecting a second term for Essebsi

TUNIS: Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi said on Saturday he did not want to run for a second term in presidential elections expected this year, despite his party's calls for the 93-year-old to stand.
Mass protests that toppled ailing President Abdelaziz Bouteflika in Algeria have stirred the opposition in Tunisia, and social media campaigns have begun rejecting a second term for Essebsi.
The Tunisian constitution adopted by parliament in 2014 gives him the right to run for two terms.
"I will say frankly that I do not want to present for a second term because Tunisia has a lot of talents," Essebsi said at a meeting of his party Nidaa Tounes in Monastir.
Tunisia will hold a parliamentary election on Oct. 6 and a presidential election starting on Nov. 17.
They will be the third set of polls in which Tunisians can vote freely following the 2011 revolution that toppled autocrat Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, who ruled for 23 years.
In December 2014, Essebsi won the first free presidential election, becoming Tunisia's first freely and directly elected president.
No prominent figure has so far declared their candidacy for the presidency this year.
Essebsi, a former parliamentary speaker under Ben Ali, has been the dominant figure in the North African country since his election in 2014, despite constitutional rules limiting his powers to defence and foreign relations. But he has lost influence since prime minister Youssed Chaded took office as prime minister in 2016.
The North African state has been hailed as the Arab Spring's only democratic success, because protests toppled Ben Ali without triggering the violent upheaval seen in Syria and Libya.
But since 2011, nine cabinets have failed to resolve Tunisia's economic problems, which include high inflation and unemployment, and impatience is rising among lenders such as the International Monetary Fund.


Trump wrote to Assad about journalist missing in Syria, says Pompeo

In this file photo taken on December 04, 2018, Marc and Debra Tice, the parents of US journalist Austin Tice (portrait L), who was abducted in Syria more than six years ago, speak at a press conference in Beirut. (AFP)
Updated 15 August 2020

Trump wrote to Assad about journalist missing in Syria, says Pompeo

  • In 2018, US authorities announced a $1 million reward for information that would lead to his recovery

WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump personally wrote to his Syrian counterpart Bashar Assad about the case of journalist Austin Tice, who has been missing since 2012, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Friday.
“The US government has repeatedly attempted to engage Syrian officials to seek Austin’s release,” Pompeo said in a statement on the eighth anniversary of Tice’s disappearance.
“President Trump wrote to Bashar Assad in March to propose direct dialogue.”
Tice was a freelance photojournalist working for Agence France-Presse, McClatchy News, The Washington Post, CBS and other news organizations when he disappeared after being detained at a checkpoint near Damascus on Aug. 14, 2012.
Thirty-one years old at the time he was captured, Tice appeared blindfolded in the custody of an unidentified group of armed men in a video a month later.
Since then, there has been no official information on whether he is alive or dead.
In March, Trump said the United States had written a letter to authorities in Damascus, without specifying that he himself had written personally to Assad, who Washington wants out of power. At that time, Trump said he did not know if Tice was still alive.

HIGHLIGHT

Tice was a freelance photojournalist working for Agence France-Presse, McClatchy News, The Washington Post, CBS and other news organizations when he disappeared after being detained at a checkpoint near Damascus on Aug. 14, 2012.

“No one should doubt the president’s commitment to bringing home all US citizens held hostage or wrongfully detained overseas,” Pompeo said Friday.
“Nowhere is that determination stronger than in Austin Tice’s case.”
Pompeo said he and Trump hoped there would be “no need for another statement like this a year from now.”
“Austin Tice’s release and return home are long, long overdue. We will do our utmost to achieve that goal,” he added.
A year ago, the US government said it believed Tice was still alive.
His mother Debra Tice said in January that she had “credible information” to that effect, without elaborating.
In 2018, US authorities announced a $1 million reward for information that would lead to his recovery.