Tunis, Asharq Al-Awsat—With Tunisia set to hold presidential and parliamentary elections by the end of the year, leader of the Left-wing Nidaa Tounes Beji Caid El-Sebsi said that he has yet to decide whether to run for the presidency.
In a broad-ranging interview with Asharq Al-Awsat, Tunisia’s former prime minister said: “Presidential elections are not an end in themselves, nor do I insist on contesting them.” He confirmed that his party has nominated him for the post, but added: “I have not accepted their nomination yet.”
Asked when he will settle the issue of his nomination, Sebsi said: “If I find that none of the other [presidential] candidates guarantees to help Tunisia get out of the situation it finds itself in, I will run for the presidency.”
The 87 year-old veteran politician denied he or his party were behind the election of Mehdi Jomaa as Prime Minister. Nevertheless, Sebsi maintained that he prefers having Jomaa as prime minister over a potentially destructive political vacuum in the country.
“We neither chose Mehdi Jomaa nor his government but after some parties agreed on Jomaa and his Cabinet, we supported both and still support them because there is no alternative,” Sebsi told Asharq Al-Awsat.
“Nature abhors a vacuum and had Jomaa not been there, we would have had to come up with someone like him,” he added.
The former prime minister also denied that his movement is a fleeting phenomenon with no real popularity, maintaining that Nidaa Tounes enjoys a wide base of support.
“People oppose anyone who succeeds and this is a special Arab characteristic. When we find a successful person, we do not say they are talented and successful but rather level unfounded accusations at them,” Sebsi said.
The full interview with Beji Caid El-Sebsi will be published soon.