Tunisia’s biggest political party Ennahda named a candidate for presidential elections, the first time the moderate Islamist party has put up a nominee since the country transitioned to democracy after the 2011 revolution.
Party vice president Abdel Fattah Mourou (71) a lawyer, will run in elections on September 15 following the death of president Beji Caid Essebsi last month.
Liberal Prime Minister Youssef Chahed will also stand, his Tahaya Tounes party said, making him a likely frontrunner to succeed Essebsi.
Other candidates include liberal former Prime Minister Mehdi Jomaa and Moncef Marzouki, interim president for three years after autocrat Zine El Abidine Ben Ali was toppled.
Essebsi was chosen in the first democratic presidential election in 2014.
One of Ennahda’s most moderate leaders, Mourou long demanded party reforms to make it more open and to distance it from the Muslim Brotherhood in other Arab countries.
Critics say Mourou is two-faced and holds contradictory positions on the role of Islam in society.
“Mourou is a highly regarded figure in Tunisia, he is able to unite Tunisians and to find consensus between rivals. This is what Tunisia needs,” Imed Khmiri, a senior Ennahda official, told Reuters.
Mourou is acting speaker of parliament after former speaker Mohamed Ennaceur became interim president.
Tunisia’s president has authority over foreign and defence policy, governing alongside a prime minister with authority over domestic affairs.