Tunisian president hospitalised 'in severe health crisis', Africa News & Top Stories

Tunisia's president Beji Caid Essebsi. File

Tunisia's president Beji Caid Essebsi. File

Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi was rushed to a military hospital, his office said, with fears of his death adding to angst on a day when twin suicide bombers struck in the capital.

Though some media outlets reported that the president had died, Essebsi's aide Firas Guefrech warned in a tweet not to be "misled by rumours".

Essebsi was born in November 1926 and took over the Tunisian presidency after winning the 2014 presidential elections.

The violence revived fears for the stability of the North African state, which is seen as a rare democratic success story of the 2011 Arab Spring uprisings but has been hit by repeated Islamist attacks.

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The announcement came after two suicide attacks in Tunis on security forces killed a policeman and wounded eight people.

Tunisian Prime Minister Youssef Chahed said on Facebook that he visited Essebsi in hospital and called for people to stop spreading "fake news" about his health. He was elected president three years later.

The veteran politician served as an adviser to Habib Bourguiba, the father of Tunisia's independence from France, holding a number of key jobs under him and later under Ben Ali.

Why it matters: Tunisia will be holding critical parliamentary and presidential elections in October and November, respectively, which have already been marred by controversy arising from recent amendments to the country's electoral laws perceived by critics as aimed at disqualifying recent frontrunners in opinion polls, notably Nabil Karoui and Olfa Terras. Sadek thinks that Prime Minister Shahed might try to take over during the interim - if the president is incapacitated - since he is one of the top candidates in expected presidential elections this fall. He is also the main contact person for the International Monetary Fund and other donors which have kept Tunisia afloat amid its economic crisis. Unemployment stands at about 15 percent, up from 12 percent in 2010, due to weak growth and low investment.

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