Tunisia: Nidaa Announces Essebsi as its Presidential Candidate
Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi will be the candidate of Nidaa party in the upcoming presidential elections, according to Fawzi al-Lumi, a leader in Nidaa.
During the preparatory meeting for the party’s first conference, scheduled for March, Lumi indicated that Nidaa intends to re-nominate Essebsi, who has not announced his final position to run for a second term.
Lumi called on his party to "prepare for the parliamentary elections immediately after the completion of the convention, as it will be a precedent for the presidential elections, and will be a strong indicator of the strength of the party and its modernist position among Tunisians."
A number of Tunisian political parties and social organizations have expressed interest in competing in the presidential polls, including the Tunisian General Labor Union and Ennahda Movement.
Ennahda announced that it will not nominate its current president, Rached Ghannouchi, but would have another candidate. In 2014, the movement did not name anyone for the presidential elections, but supported former president Moncef Marzouki, who lost to Essebsi.
The race is expected to be fierce among the leaders of Nidaa Tunis, led by Essebsi’s son Hafedh, and Emel Tunis, which will officially announce its candidate at the end of January.
Nidaa prepared a roadmap for its first electoral conference which consists of the following: local conferences of parliamentarians will be held from February 1 to 3 and regional conferences will be held between February 8 and 10. These meetings will result in the first electoral conference, which will end with an elected leadership for the first time in the party’s history.
Reda Belhaj, a top Nidaa official, called for restoring the party’s status in Tunisia's political life after the difficulties it had faced, in reference to the many divisions that led to the formation of four new parties.
Belhaj said this move can only be carried out through the election of a real leadership after holding a “real and democratic” convention. He added that the party will soon reinstate its position and solidify its ranks in preparation for the upcoming presidential and parliamentary elections.
In other news, Minister of Social Affairs Mohamed Trabelsi confirmed the resumption of negotiations between the government and the Labor Union this week to avoid the general strike set for February 20 and 21.
Trabelsi, a former trade union leader, said the government and the UGTT Union were “closer than ever to striking a deal on the increase in public wages.”
He pointed that the two parties agreed in their last meeting on the financial value of the raise, but the dispute focused on the dates of its release.
The Union organized a general strike in the public sector on January 17, after failure to reach an agreement on the wage hike. It then announced February 20 and 21 as dates for a new general strike.