TUNIS – Tunisia’s 92-year-old President Mohamed Beji Caid Essebsi has died, the office of the presidency confirmed on Thursday.
Earlier, his son Hafez Caid Essebsi said the ailing leader had been hospitalized for the third time in one month.
“The Tunisian President Mohamed Beji Caid Essebsi died Thursday morning, July 25, 2019, at 10:25 am at a military hospital in Tunis. The burial ceremony will be announced soon,” a statement shared on the presidential office social media sites said.
Essebsi was first admitted to a hospital in mid-June with serious health issues, then again at the end of the same month.
In line with the Constitution, the head of state will be taken on by Parliament’s president, Mohamed Ennaceur, who is 85 and in declining health.
Ennaceur has three months to call presidential elections.
According to the Tunisian news agency TAP, the president went to the military hospital on June 21 to carry out some medical tests and was later released.
The last time the president was seen after his discharge was on July 22 in a video recorded by the presidency while speaking with the defense minister, a video that increased rumors about his deteriorated health status.
Tunisian media said that the president was admitted to the intensive care unit, something that has neither been officially confirmed nor denied.
Essebsi came to power as Tunisia’s first democratically elected president after winning the 2014 elections’ second round, following the ousting of former president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in the wake of the country’s 2011 revolution.
Parliamentary elections are expected to take place on Oct. 6. The presidential vote had been scheduled to follow on Nov. 17.