Skip to main content

Two Tunisian presidential candidates pull out in the same day

Both candidates complain of growing political polarisation ahead of the upcoming vote
Former central bank governor Mustapha Kamal Nabli, bowed out of the race, scheduled to take place on 23 November, on Monday (AFP)

Two Tunisian politicians pulled out of the country’s upcoming presidential elections scheduled to take place at the end of the week on 23 November.

On Monday, former central bank governor Mustapha Kamal Nabli, running as an independent, ended his presidential campaign in the northern city of Bizerte. The announcement came hours after the withdrawal of another candidate, Nourredine Hachad, a diplomat and labour minister during the rule of Zine Abidine Ben Ali, ousted in a popular uprising in 2011.

Millions of Tunisians are expected to head to polling stations across the country to select a new president, the first to be elected following the overthrow of Ben Ali. The elections will take place after legislative elections were successfully held in October.

Only 23 out of 27 candidates who put forward their candidacy in September for the presidential elections remain. Two other independent candidates announced their withdrawal in previous weeks.

Hached, 70, appeared on state television to air his position.

“I took this decision in protest against conditions on Tunisia’s political stage at present,” he said. “I don’t want to be a part of what’s going to happen in Tunisia in the next five years. I’m not optimistic but nor will I withdraw from political life.”

Hached also expressed dissatisfaction with a polarised political scene in reference to the presidential campaigns of Beji Caid Essebi and Moncef Marzouki. As the two front runners, the head of the winning party in the legislative elections Essebsi is engaged in a fierce political battle against interim president Marzouki.

In his resignationa speech on a private television channel talk show made earlier in the day, Nabli, 66, asked viewers if Marzouki’s religious language which labelled some opponents as ‘taghout’ or tyrants was “incitement to killing".

Nabli’s spokesperson Reem al-Saidi told Anadolu Agency he had decided to walk out of the presidential race in protest against the use of money as a political campaigning tool and the presence of a widespread violent discourse.

Discussing a climate of “violence” and “terrorism”, Nabli said on television that “the climate doesn’t allow Tunisians to calmly choose their future president.”

Two violent standoffs between security forces and militants in the week before legislative elections in October sharpened a perception among Tunisian citizens of growing security problems in the country.

In a tweet, Nabli said “I chose Tunisia when I stood for election, I chose Tunisia when I pulled out and I will choose Tunisia forever."

When asked on air about support for another candidate, Nabli said he would declare his position in coming days after discussion with his team.

Despite their announcements, Tunisian election law stipulates that the candidates’ names will appear on ballot papers on election day.