Beji Caid Essebsi

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Beji Caid Essebsi
الباجي قائد السبسي
Beji Caid el Sebsi at the 37th G8 Summit in Deauville 006.jpg
4th President of Tunisia
Incumbent
Assumed office
31 December 2014
Prime Minister Mehdi Jomaa
Habib Essid
Preceded by Moncef Marzouki
Prime Minister of Tunisia
In office
27 February 2011 – 24 December 2011
President Fouad Mebazaa (Acting)
Moncef Marzouki
Preceded by Mohamed Ghannouchi
Succeeded by Hamadi Jebali
President of Chamber of Deputies
In office
14 March 1990 – 9 October 1991
President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali
Preceded by Slaheddine Baly
Succeeded by Habib Boularès
Minister of Foreign Affairs
In office
15 April 1981 – 15 September 1986
Prime Minister Mohammed Mzali
Rachid Sfar
Preceded by Hassen Belkhodja
Succeeded by Hédi Mabrouk
Personal details
Born Mohamed Beji Caid Essebsi
(1926-11-29) 29 November 1926 (age 88)
Sidi Bou Said, Tunisia
Political party Democratic Constitutional Rally (Before 2011)
Independent (2011–2012)
Call of Tunisia (2012–present)
Spouse(s) Chadlia Saïda Farhat
Children Amel
Mohamed Hafedh
Salwa
Khélil
Religion Islam

Mohamed Beji Caid Essebsi (or el-Sebsi, Arabic: محمد الباجي قائد السبسي‎, Muhammad al-Bājī Qā’id as-Sibsī;[pronunciation?] born 29 November 1926) is a Tunisian politician who has been President of Tunisia since December 2014. Previously he served as Minister of Foreign Affairs from 1981 to 1986 and as Prime Minister from February 2011 to December 2011.[1][2]

Essebsi is the founder of the Nidaa Tounes political party, which won a plurality in the 2014 parliamentary election. In December 2014, he won the first regular presidential election following the Tunisian Revolution, becoming Tunisia's first freely elected president.

Personal life[edit]

Born in Sidi Bou Said to a family from the Tunisian landed élite, he is a great-grandson of Ismail Caïd Essebsi (a mamluk leader of Tunisian corsairs in Sardinia at the beginning of the 19th century, who was raised with the ruling family and later became an important member of the government).[3][4]

He has two sons and two daughters.

Political career[edit]

Essebsi's first involvement in politics came in 1941, when he joined the Neo Destour youth organization in Hammam-Lif.[5][6] He studied law in Paris and became a lawyer in 1952 at the Tunis bar, where he began his career with the defence of Neo Destour activists. He was a follower of Tunisia's post-independence leader Habib Bourguiba. He then joined Bourguiba as an adviser following the country's independence from France in 1956. From 1957 to 1971, he performed various functions such as director of the regional administration, general director of the Sûreté nationale, Interior Minister from 5 July 1965 to 8 September 1969, Minister-Delegate to the Prime Minister, Defence Minister from 7 November 1969 to 12 June 1970, and then Ambassador in Paris. From October 1971 to January 1972, he advocated greater democracy in Tunisia and resigned his function, then returned to Tunis. In April 1981, he came back to the government under Mohamed Mzali as Minister of Foreign Affairs, serving until September 1986.[4][5]

In 1987, he switched allegiance following Ben Ali's removal of Bourguiba from power. He was appointed as the country's ambassador to Germany. From 1990 to 1991, he was the President of the Chamber of Deputies.[5]

Interim Prime Minister in 2011[edit]

On 27 February 2011, in the aftermath of the Tunisian Revolution, Tunisian Prime Minister Mohamed Ghannouchi resigned following a day of clashes in Tunis with five protesters being killed. On the same day, acting President Fouad Mebazaa appointed Caïd Essebsi new Prime Minister, describing him as "a person with an impeccable political and private life, known for his profound patriotism, his loyalty and his self-sacrifice in serving his country." The mostly young protesters however continued taking their discontent to the streets, criticizing the unilateral appointment of Caïd Essebsi without further consultation.[7]

On 5 May accusations of the former Interior Minister Farhat Rajhi that a coup d'etat was being prepared against the possibility of the Islamist Ennahda party winning the Constituent Assembly election in October, again led to several days of fierce anti-Government protests and clashes on the streets.[8] In the interview disseminated on Facebook, Rajhi called Caïd Essebsi a "liar", whose government had been manipulated by the old Ben Ali circles.[9] Caïd Essebsi strongly rejected Rajhi's accusations as "dangerous and irresponsible lies, [aimed at spreading] chaos in the country" and also dismissed him from his post as director of the High Commission for Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, which he had retained after being dismissed from the office as Interior Minister already on March 8. Nevertheless, Ennahda's president Rached Ghannouchi further fueled the suspicions, stating that "Tunisians doubt the credibility of the Transitional Government."[8]

After the elections in October, Caïd Essebsi left office on 24 December 2011 when the new Interim President Moncef Marzouki appointed Hamadi Jebali of the Islamist Ennahda, which indeed became the strongest parliamentary faction.[10]

2014 elections[edit]

Following his departure from office, Caïd Essebsi founded the secular Nidaa Tounes party, which won a plurality of the seats in the October 2014 parliamentary election. He was also the party's candidate in the country's first free presidential elections, in November 2014.[11]

On 22 December 2014, official election results showed that Essebsi defeated rival candidate Moncef Marzouki, the incumbent President, in the second round of voting, receiving 55.68% of the vote.[12] After the polls closed the previous day, Essebsi said on local television that he dedicated his victory to "the martyrs of Tunisia".[13]

President of Tunisia[edit]

Essebsi was sworn in as President on 31 December 2014. He vowed on that occasion to "be president of all Tunisian men and women without exclusion" and stressed the importance of "consensus among all parties and social movements".[14]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Tunisian PM Mohammed Ghannouchi resigns over protests", BBC News, 27 February 2011.
  2. ^ Tarek Amara, "Tunisian prime minister resigns amid protests", Reuters, 27 February 2011.
  3. ^ Mohamed El Aziz Ben Achour, Catégories de la société tunisoise dans la deuxième moitié du XIXe siècle, éd. Institut national d'archéologie et d'art, Tunis, 1989 (French)
  4. ^ a b Ridha Khefi, "Béji Caïd Essebsi", Jeune Afrique, 13 March 2005 (French)
  5. ^ a b c "President Essebsi, a lifetime in Tunisia politics". Euronews. 22 December 2014. Archived from the original on 22 December 2014. Retrieved 22 December 2014. 
  6. ^ "Essebsi retrouve ses racines à Hammam-Lif!" (in French). Espace Manager. 20 October 2014. Archived from the original on 24 December 2014. Retrieved 24 December 2014. 
  7. ^ Guidi, Francesco (1 March 2011). "Tunisian Prime Minister Mohammed Gannouchi resigns". About Oil. Retrieved 13 November 2014. 
  8. ^ a b Guidi, Francesco (9 May 2011). "Tension returns to Tunisia with protests against the Transitional Government". About Oil. Retrieved 13 November 2014. 
  9. ^ «Farhat Rajhi fonce, tête baissée, pour l'élection présidentielle», Business News, 6 May 2011.
  10. ^ Mzioudet, Houda (14 December 2011), "Ennahda’s Jebali Appointed as Tunisian Prime Minister", Tunisia, archived from the original on 17 January 2012, retrieved 21 December 2011 
  11. ^ Monica Marks (29 October 2014). "The Tunisian election result isn’t simply a victory for secularism over Islamism". Archived from the original on 3 November 2014. Retrieved 9 November 2014. 
  12. ^ "Essebsi elected Tunisian president with 55.68 percent". Reuters. 22 December 2014. Archived from the original on 22 December 2014. Retrieved 22 December 2014. 
  13. ^ "Tunisia election: Essebsi claims historic victory". BBC News. 22 December 2014. Archived from the original on 22 December 2014. Retrieved 22 December 2014. 
  14. ^ "Tunisian secular leader Essebsi sworn in as new president", Reuters, 31 December 2014.

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Hassen Belkhodja
Minister of Foreign Affairs
1981–1986
Succeeded by
Hédi Mabrouk
Preceded by
Slaheddine Baly
President of the Chamber of Deputies
1990–1991
Succeeded by
Habib Boularès
Preceded by
Mohamed Ghannouchi
Prime Minister of Tunisia
2011
Succeeded by
Hamadi Jebali
Preceded by
Moncef Marzouki
President of Tunisia
2014–present
Incumbent