ADDS REMARKS BY ENNAHDA LEADER, DECLARATION OF NATIONAL MOURNING
By Ali Abo Rezeg , Suheir al-Kharraz and Yosra Ouanes
TUNIS (AA) - Tunisia's President Beji Caid Essebsi died on Thursday at age 92, said a statement by the Tunisian Presidency.
The presidency said Essebsi died in a military hospital in the capital Tunis.
Late on Wednesday, a source in the Tunisian presidency said Essebsi had been hospitalized over health concerns.
He was taken to the military hospital twice in the last month and was discharged on July 1.
In a related development, a source from the Tunisian parliament said a meeting was held between the Prime Minister Youssef Chahed and Parliament Speaker Mohamed Al-Nasser to discuss the country's situation following Essebsi's death.
On July 5, following his discharge from the hospital, Essebsi signed a presidential decree calling Tunisian voters to vote in legislative and presidential elections slated for November 2019.
According to the Tunisian constitution, the country’s parliament speaker will occupy Essebsi's former post as acting president for 45 to 90 days until fresh presidential polls can be held.
Over Essebsi’s death, Tunisia’s government on Thursday announced seven days of national mourning, according to which ceremonial summer festivals in all of the Tunisian provinces were cancelled until further notice.
Mourning for the decease of Essebsi, Tunisia’s former President Moncef Marzouki offered condolences to the late president’s family, his friends, and the Tunisian people
Marzouki called for “forgetting about and removing all disputes during such strict conditions and adherence to the constitution and the institutions of the state” in a Facebook post.
Tunisia's Ennahda movement leader Rachid Ghannouchi, meanwhile, mourned Essebsi saying, he helped the country to “avoid the scourge of stampede and confrontation, led the democratic transitional phase and was keen to build and complete the [building of] constitutional institutions," according to Ghannouchi’s official Facebook webpage.
Ghannouchi called for unity, patience and coming together in backing “the institutions of the constitutional state for safeguarding Tunisia's future and present."
Essebsi, took office in December 2014 after having served in a variety of key positions in the North African country for several decades, most notably as director of national security, interior minister, defense minister, and foreign minister.
Born in 1926, Essebsi took power in a changed political landscape after Tunisia witnessed a popular revolution known to have sparked the beginning of the Arab Spring uprisings.