Tunisia: Defense minister debunks rumors about presidential plans

Tunisia’s defense minister Tuesday denied in front of lawmakers rumors indicating that he has plans to run for November presidential elections.

Abdelkrim Zbidi, speaking in front of a parliamentary commission, stressed that the issue has never been raised.

“Did you ever hear me claiming this or that position? This only binds people who circulate this kind of statements. The day I will ask for something, I will be responsible for what I say,” Zbidi was quoted by local media as saying.

The alleged candidacy of the defense minister has over the past few weeks been the talk of town. The rumors further swirled after Zbidi was seen with President Caid Essebsi this week at the presidential palace.

Tunisians have been concerned about Essebsi’s health condition as he made only two public appearances since returning from hospital on July 1 where he had been admitted late June after he suffered a serious malaise.

Essebsi is yet to announce whether he will still seek a second term in office at the age of 92, after his party Nidaa Tounes asked him to enter the presidential race.

Candidates have between August 27 and September to submit their bids.

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