Beji Caid Essebsi Sworn in as Tunisia President

Tunisian President-elect Beji Caid Essebsi has taken his oath of office after winning the country’s first free presidential poll.

The 88-year-old secured victory last week over incumbent Moncef Marzouki.

His triumph means Tunisia – where the Arab Spring began – remains the only Arab country to move from authoritarian rule to democracy in that period.

On Monday, electoral authorities confirmed that Mr Essebsi had won a run-off vote against Mr Marzouki.

The new president took his oath of office at a ceremony in the newly elected parliament – where his party Nidaa Tounes also holds the largest number of seats.

Economic changes

The swearing in comes four years after protests that eventually toppled President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali in January 2011.

Journalist Naveena Kottoor in Tunis says that while this is the latest democratic milestone for Tunisia, many in the country are arguing that political transition will only succeed if newly-elected politicians usher in social and economic changes.

Mr Essebsi has urged all Tunisians to “work together” for stability but critics say his win marks the return of a discredited establishment, pointing out that he served under President Ben Ali.

This month’s vote was the first time Tunisians have been able to vote freely for their president since independence from France in 1956.

Beji Caid Essebsi

  • 88-year-old lawyer and politician
  • Studied law in Paris
  • Interior minister under Habib Bourguiba, Tunisia’s first president after independence
  • Speaker of parliament under ousted President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali
  • Interim prime minister in 2011 after the uprising
  • Founder of secular-leaning Nidaa Tounes party in 2014
  • Supported by both trade unions and some business groups

The new president will have restricted powers under a constitution passed earlier this year.

He will be commander-in-chief of the armed forces but can appoint or sack senior officers only in consultation with the prime minister.

Source: BBC