Beji Caid Essebi is alive but remains in critical condition after a serious threat to his health.
Rabat – Tunisia’s President Beji Caid Essebsi was taken to a military hospital on Thursday, June 27, after suffering a “severe health crisis,” according to the Tunisian presidency’s Facebook page.
Essebsi remains in “very critical” condition but is still alive, an adviser told Reutors, countering previous rumors that he had died.
Essebsi, 92, was also hospitalized last week – though this was for non-serious treatment.
Essebsi is the country’s first freely-elected president and has been involved in politics for most of his life, though he has become more well known for his political leadership since the Arab Spring.
Following the overthrow of Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali in 2011, Essebsi has been a prominent political figure in the country – leading the immediate transition towards democracy in his temporary role as Prime Minister.
He was elected president three years later, in an election characterized by the polarization between Islamists and others. Alongside his presidential victory, Essebsi’s secular Nidaa Tounes party also took the majority in parliament, replacing the Islamist Ennahda party.
In his victory speech he emphasized bringing Tunisians together and said he wanted to be a president of “all Tunisian men and women.”
Essebsi recently announced he would not campaign for reelection this year, despite his party’s encouragement for him to run for another term. The 92-year-old said a younger person should lead the country. His party has yet to suggest an alternative candidate.
Born in 1926, Essebsi studied law before entering the political field. He supported Tunisia’s independence leader, Habib Bourguiba. After Tunisia gained its independence from France in 1956, he served as Foreign Minister.
Essebsi then held the position of speaker of parliament while Ben Ali was still in power. The majority of Essebsi’s experience is in security, defence, and foreign affairs and these areas remain his focus as President.