Tunisia’s Islamist Ennahda throws weight behind vote frontrunner

Supporters of Tunisia's jailed presidential candidate Nabil Karoui (not pictued) celebrate in front of his headquarters in the Tunisian capital Tunis. (File/AFP)
Updated 21 September 2019

Tunisia’s Islamist Ennahda throws weight behind vote frontrunner

  • Karoui came second with 15.6 percent
  • The result was a major upset for Tunisia’s political establishment

TUNIS: Tunisia’s influential Islamist-inspired party Ennahda said on Friday it will support law professor and political outsider Kais Saied in a presidential runoff against jailed media magnate Nabil Karoui.

“Ennahda has chosen to support the people’s choice,” party spokesman Imed Khemiri told AFP after last Sunday’s first round of polling in which Saied finished ahead with 18.4 percent of the vote.

The surprise result of the election, contested by more than 20 candidates, thrust to the fore both Saied and Karoui, likewise from outside the world of traditional Tunisian politics.

Karoui came second with 15.6 percent, said the electoral commission ISIE, while Ennahda, a main force in Parliament, scored 12.9 percent with its first-ever candidate to run for the presidency, Abdelfattah Mourou.

The result was a major upset for Tunisia’s political establishment, in place since the fall of late leader Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali eight years ago after mass protests that sparked the Arab Spring revolts.

HIGHLIGHT

The surprise result of the election, contested by more than 20 candidates, thrust to the fore both Saied and Karoui, likewise from outside the world of traditional Tunisian politics.

Saied, a fiercely independent academic aged 61, advocates a radical decentralization of power, with local democracy and the ability to remove elected officials from office during their mandates.

He is also perceived as very conservative on social issues, and has defended the death penalty, criminalization of homosexuality and a sexual assault law that punishes unmarried couples who engage in public displays of affection.

Karoui, a 56-year-old media magnate, has been held in prison since Aug. 23 under investigation for alleged money laundering.

He remains eligible to run as long as any conviction does not also specifically deprive him of his civil rights, according to ISIE.

Karoui has in recent years used his popular television channel Nessma to launch high-profile charity campaigns, often appearing in designer suits as he criss-crosses the country to meet with some of its poorest.


Emirates opens bookings for a number of Arab destinations as of July

Updated 44 min 14 sec ago

Emirates opens bookings for a number of Arab destinations as of July

  • Coronavirus travel regulations remain and a number of countries have not yet revealed when they would reopen
  • The airline implemented precautionary measures from May 21

DUBAI: Emirates has opened online bookings for 12 Arab countries for flights starting on July 1.
The destinations include Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman, Iraq, Egypt, Algeria and Tunisia, but bookings are still subject to change, local media said.
“Currently some of our flights are available for booking starting  July 1; however, the situation still  remains dynamic and these flight services could be subject to change, We aim to provide our customers with as much notice as possible should there be any changes,” an Emirates spokesperson told weekly magazine Arabian Business.
However, coronavirus travel regulations remain and a number of countries have not yet revealed when they would reopen.
The airline implemented precautionary measures from May 21 as regular scheduled flights to some destinations resumed.
These measures introduced include complimentary hygiene kits for all passengers, staggered boarding – carried out on a row-by-row basis – with all flights over one-and-a-half hours having a cabin service assistant, who will ensure the toilets are cleaned every 45 minutes.
Other measures include a series of precautions for transit passengers in Dubai, ensuring strict social distancing and requiring passengers and crew to wear masks and gloves at all times.