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"71 nominations were rejected, including 51 due to a lack of sponsorships and 14 a lack of endorsements,'" said the body president.
Tunisia’s electoral body announced Wednesday a list of 26 presidential candidates for the third free elections to be held next month in the country. Almost 100 applicants had presented their candidacy in hopes to become the next country’s leader.
"Seventy-one nomination papers were rejected, including 51 on the grounds of lack of sponsorships and deposit guarantees and 14 for the lack of endorsements," said the commission president Nabil Baffoun in a press conference, adding that rejected candidates will be able to appeal before the end of the month when the final list is published.
Among the candidates approved for the presidential race are Prime Minister Youssef Chahed, former Prime Minister Mehdi Jomaa, the vice-president of the moderate Islamist party Ennahda, Abdelfattah Mourou and Defence Minister Abdelkarim Zbidi.
Former President Moncef Marzouki and Nabil Karoui, a renowned businessman in the country will also join the run.
The list of approved candidates also includes two women: Selma Elloumi, a former tourism minister, and Abir Moussi, a fierce supporter of Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, who ruled the country for 22 years (1989-2011).
Among the candidates that were cast off, was Mounir Baatour, a lawyer who was the first openly gay candidate in the history of the Arab world. Baatour’s attempt as a candidate was denounced by 18 associations campaigning for LGBTQ rights who said he did not represent them.
Anis Jarboui, a member of the electoral commission, said many of the contenders filed applications that were incomplete and said Baatour was barred because he did not collect the required 10,000 signatures.
The Sept. 15 vote was brought forward from Nov. 17, following the death last month of 92-year-old Beji Caid Essebsi, the first president to be democratically elected in the country after the 2011 popular uprising that ousted former dictato Ben Al.
The North-African country that was the spark of the dubbed Arab spring revolts, has been praised as an exceptional case of democratic transition after the Arab Spring, however, it still faces economic and security challenges.