FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
(Washington, D.C.) – The Project on Middle East Democracy (POMED) issued the following statement upon news of the death of Tunisia’s President Beji Caid Essebsi:
The Project on Middle East Democracy (POMED) offers its condolences to the Tunisian people on the passing of President Beji Caid Essebsi. President Essebsi has been one of the most important figures in Tunisia’s democratization process, serving not only since December 2014 as the country’s first freely and popularly elected president, but also as interim prime minister during the critical early stage of the transition in 2011.
President Essebsi will be remembered for his success in building political consensus after the revolution and for his role in guiding Tunisia through numerous political and security challenges. Throughout a politically fragile period—and against the backdrop of rising authoritarianism globally—Essebsi helped Tunisia continue on the path of democracy chosen by its citizens. Essebsi’s career also encapsulated the dramatic changes since Tunisia gained independence in 1956, as he earlier served in the dictatorships of Habib Bourguiba and Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, including as interior minister.
Tunisia’s democratic progress has been demonstrated again today by the smooth, peaceful turnover of power to Acting President Mohamed Ennaceur, as mandated by the 2014 Constitution. This leadership change, however, also underscores the need to complete steps including the creation of all constitutionally mandated bodies.
At this important juncture, the United States and other democracies should do everything they can to support Tunisia’s continued democratization.
The Project on Middle East Democracy (POMED) is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to examining how genuine democracies can develop in the Middle East and how the United States can best support that process. Through research, advocacy, and civil society partnerships we work to strengthen the constituency for U.S. policies that peacefully support democratic reform in the Middle East.
Contact: Stephen McInerney, Executive Director Project on Middle East Democracy (POMED), email@example.com; April Brady, Communications Coordinator, POMED, firstname.lastname@example.org
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