US Trump backs Sisi in face of some protests    Historic decision on Johnson's Parliament shutdown due in UK    Israel's main parties begin talks on coalition government    Asian stocks subdued as weak Europe data fuel growth worries    Sisi: Egypt aims to spread 100 Million Health campaign to Africa    European stocks to open higher amid trade optimism    Dollar rises, sterling shaky before Supreme Court ruling    Lackluster Zamalek claim a narrow win over Ittihad of Alexandria    Italy Serie A fixtures (5th matchday)    Ramadan Sobhi fires Ahly to a winning start in the Egyptian League    UK's Johnson says it's time to move forward and do new Iran deal    Egypt seeks to spread 100 Million Health campaign to African countries: Sisi at UN meeting    Egypt's Rowad Modern Engineering renovates 40% of Manial Palace    Egypt media regulator says BBC site 'likely blocked' due to 'inaccurate coverage' of limited protests    Thomas Cook operator in Egypt says 25,000 bookings cancelled following bankruptcy    Ethiopia to commission Chinese-built 254 MW hydro dam    UK's Johnson believes Iran was behind Saudi oil attacks    Trump Asia expert to become deputy national security adviser    Volume of trade exchange between Egypt, China hits $7.69 billion in seven months    UN agency: Tanzania not sharing details on Ebola-like cases    Baby gut study finds bacteria different after C-section births    Granada defeats Barcelona despite Lionel Messi's rescue effort    Zamalek president Mortada Mansour talks Egypt's Super Cup, unveils reasons behind defeat    Grand Egyptian Museum's construction works 93% complete    Egypt's Health Ministry bans all ranitidine medicines    El Gouna Film Festival celebrates 100th birth anniversary of novelist Ihsan Abdel-Quddous    FIPRESCI and Netpack hosted by El Gouna Film festival for the first time    Small protests in Egypt dispersed by police    Ahly wins Egyptian Super Cup after beating Zamalek    Rare protests in Egyptian streets after online call for dissent    Egypt's tuk-tuk start-up Halan to tap Ethiopia before year-end    Cairo Opera hosts closing ceremony of the Cairo International Festival for Contemporary and Experimental Theatre    'Egypt will not allow any country to impose its will on another in Ethiopian dam issue,' FM says    Egypt, Ethiopia at odds as talks over Blue Nile dam resume    Egypt's FM hopes for deal as new round of GERD talks kicks off    Egypt's PM discusses details of Al-Hussein Mosque renovation    Court sentences six to death, 41 to lifetime imprisonment violence related case    Trump says he would release Mideast peace plan after Israeli elections    ACWA Power compares 3 bids to supply production units for Luxor power station    What do you know about gold alloying?    NBE announces EGP 2.5m prizes for handball youth teams for their world achievements    Jennifer Lopez evokes Egyptian outrage post her North Coast performance    Al-Sisi honours Egypt's scholars on Science Day    IS claims responsibility for suicide bombing killing 63 in Afghan wedding    Political parties gear up for parliamentary, senate, local elections    Unprecedented Glory: Egypt win Men's U-19 World Handball Championship    12th National Egyptian Theatre Festival fuel up public theatre art scene    Ministry of Environment has a plan for "black clouds season"    

Thank you for reporting!
This image will be automatically disabled when it gets reported by several people.

OBITUARY: Tunisia's Essebsi shaped transition since overthrow of Ben Ali
Published in Ahram Online on 25 - 07 - 2019

Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi, who helped shape his country's democratic transition after a 2011 revolution ended decades of authoritarian rule, has died, the presidency said on Thursday. He was 92.
One of the world's oldest leaders, Essebsi was taken to a military hospital on Wednesday. Essebsi had been hospitalized late last month and spent a week in hospital after suffering what authorities described as a severe health crisis.
Drafted in as prime minister in 2011 after veteran autocrat Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali was toppled, Essebsi was elected president three years later, becoming the country's first directly elected head of state after its "Arab Spring" uprising.
He co-brokered a historic power-sharing deal between his Nidaa Tounes movement and Islamist party Ennahda that helped to steady the country, but the tie-up later frayed and Nidaa Tounes fractured into political infighting centring on Essebsi's son Hafedh Caid Essebsi, who became party leader.
Though Tunisia remained a democratic exception in a troubled region, critics accused Essebsi of attempting a dynastic handover, rowing back on post-revolution freedoms, and failing to support a truth commission seeking justice for the victims of authoritarian rule.
Born in 1926, Essebsi grew up under French rule and served in various positions after independence in 1956 under Habib Bourguiba, the modern state's founding father, rising to the post of foreign minister by the 1980s.
Under Ben Ali, who removed the ailing Bourguiba on health grounds in 1987, he was briefly speaker of parliament but spent long periods outside politics, going back to his old job as a lawyer as hopes that Ben Ali would ease the autocratic grip prevailing under Bourguiba faded.
Helped Draft Democratic Constitution
Essebsi returned to the political scene after Ben Ali fled with his family to Saudi Arabia amid mass protests in 2011 and Tunisia became the first country to unseat its leader in uprisings that swept the region.
He helped draft a new democratic constitution guaranteeing fundamental rights such as freedom of speech, and preparing Tunisia for free elections.
In 2012, he founded the Nidaa Tounes to counter the Islamists of Ennahda, whose return to politics after Ben Ali's fall and victory in 2011 elections sparked deep angst and protests among its secular-leaning opponents and Tunisia's Europeanised elite.
Political polarisation deepened with the 2013 assassination of two leftist opposition leaders Chokri Belaid and Mohamed Brahmi, which were blamed on radical Islamists.
Essebsi, together with labour unions, business leaders and civil society groups, reached an agreement with Ennahda to form a power-sharing government, working together for a constitution that was approved in 2014.
The agreement stabilized the country as other parts of the region such as Syria, Yemen or Libya struggled with upheaval and violence. In recognition of their role, Tunisian civil society groups won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2015.
In the 2014 parliamentary elections, Essebsi led his party to victory and became the first directly elected president after the revolution. Despite his party's win, he formed a coalition government with Ennahda, favouring consensus after several years of post-uprising turmoil.
As president, Essebsi followed his mentor Bourguiba in promoting a secular state, promising to use education to lift the fortunes of the country's impoverished interior and winning regional recognition for promoting women's rights.
Since Bourguiba, Tunisia has granted women more rights than other countries in North Africa and the Middle East, and since 2017 has allowed Muslim women to marry non-Muslim men.
However, Essebsi was unable to achieve his stated goal of equality of inheritance between women and men, a taboo in the region, leaving the door open for exceptions in the face of opposition from Islamists.
In recent years, Essebsi faced growing criticism over the role of his son, with divisions in Nidaa Tounes distracting from work on much needed economic reforms.
Essebsi denied dynastic manoeuvring, saying his son had the right to practise politics and that he could not dismiss him.
Essebsi also faced criticism that he was seeking a return to a strong state with power concentrated in the presidency, whose role is limited to foreign and defence policies under the new constitution.

Clic here to read the story from its source.