Kais Saied Hints at His Candidacy for a Second Presidential Term

The Tunisian president rejects the candidacy of those who have sought refuge abroad and expresses his surprise at the rush towards the presidential election after boycotting all electoral stages

Tunisian President Kais Saied stated on Saturday that it would not be acceptable for candidates with ties to foreign countries to run for office, affirming that the announcement of his candidacy for a second presidential term will come in due course and in accordance with the law.

Saied added during a speech commemorating the twenty-fourth anniversary of the death of former President Habib Bourguiba, the founder of the independence state in Monastir, that “running for presidential elections is not a matter of desire or ambition; it’s a matter of survival or extinction that will be addressed in due time”.

He asked, “Have you ever heard of a president in a Western country running for Tunisia? The candidate must be endorsed by Tunisians and elected by Tunisians alone, not from any other entity”.

Last Tuesday, Tunisian opposition politician Lotfi Mraihi, president of the Republican People’s Party, officially announced his candidacy for the presidential race, while sharply criticizing President Saied at the same time.

On the other hand, the opposition National Salvation Front, supported by the Ennahdha movement, has not yet announced a candidate for the presidential election, as its president Ahmed Najib Chebbi stated about two weeks ago that “this political front has not yet decided on participating in the presidential elections, due to the lack of political clarity and the absence of an electoral atmosphere conducive to transparent competition for the presidency”.

Last month, Moncef Zenaidi, a former minister during the reign of the late Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, “expressed his readiness to participate in the upcoming political and electoral stages” after revealing in a post on his official Facebook page a preliminary political program.

In his latest statement, he criticized the Kaïs Saïed regime clearly, and the goal might be to gain opposition supporters, saying that Tunisia “is currently experiencing a state of frustration, confusion, and unprecedented horizon blockage”, or that “intimidation, denigration, and silencing will not deter our determination to respond to the call of national duty”.

While other parties continue to nominate their leaders who are in prison, such as the Free Constitutional Party, which insisted on nominating its president Abir Moussi. Political and media figures, such as Alfa Hamdi and journalist Nizar Chaari, also announced their intention to run for the next presidential election.

The Independent High Authority for Elections has set the date for the presidential elections in the fall of 2024.

President Saïed, elected on October 13, 2019, for a term of 5 years, winning a large majority of votes exceeding 70% against his rival Nabil Karoui in the second round, has not yet announced his candidacy for a second term, but it is widely expected that he will clarify his candidacy later on.

It is assumed that the Tunisian president is waiting for a specific national event to officially announce his candidacy, with speculation that it could be on the twenty-fifth of July next, due to its political significance in the eyes of the authority.

Although he has not declared his intention to run for a second term, voices calling on President Saïed to run for a second presidential term are increasing in an effort to continue his political project supported by the measures of July 25, 2021.

Saied said on Saturday, “Today, we are fighting an existential war, and I am not exaggerating… a war of survival or extinction for this country… They tried to overthrow the state during that period after January 14, 2011… exploding the state from within… and today, they want to discredit the state institutions, their goal and their quest are to strike the country”.

He added, “We are proud of our history and our sovereignty, and there is no room to sell our sovereignty to anyone, even with all the treasures of the world. Let many learn from what happened and read history and understand well that history will not go back as they wish and dream, we will continue what we have committed to the people and I will never retreat from the choices that have been made, because the people have expressed that at every occasion”.

According to Saied, “Power is not a desire, a throne, or a chair as they imagine and dream, but a responsibility… We remain steadfast in the commitment to purify the country from those who have corrupted it and spread corruption everywhere”, adding “we will never retreat”.

While the opposition forces, especially the National Salvation Front, boycotted the local council elections, after boycotting all the electoral stations outlined by President Saïed since July 25, 2021, they also refuse to recognize the new constitution of the country adopted following a summer 2022 referendum, while other parties, including the “People’s Movement” and the “Forward Tunisia” party, engaged in it.

Last March, the Tunisian president confirmed that the next presidential elections would take place on time, indicating that the opposition, which boycotted the previous events, “is preparing for this deadline”.

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