Rached Ghannouchi, the leader of Tunisia’s moderate Islamist Ennahda party, will stand in the next parliamentary elections in October.
Exiled in London for about two decades during the time of former president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, Ghannouchi, 78, returned to political life in Tunisia following its 2011 revolution.
He has never run for any official position.
“The decision to present Ghannouchi at the top of the party’s electoral list in Tunis1, is to have leaders of parties play a more important role at this crucial stage in the history of the democratic transition in Tunisia,” Ennahda party official Imed Khmiri told Reuters.
Ghannouchi’s candidacy for a parliamentary seat reinforces expectations that he is seeking to play a bigger role, possibly as prime minister or speaker of parliament, if his party wins the election.
Parliamentary elections are expected to be held on October 6 with a presidential vote following on November 17. They will be the third set of polls in which Tunisians can vote freely following the 2011 revolution.
The parliamentary race is expected to be fought closely by the Ennahda party, the secular Tahya Tounes party of Prime Minister Youssef Chahed, the Nidaa Tounes party led by Hafedh Caid Essebsi, the president’s son, and the Courant Democrate party.
Since the revolt, Tunisia drafted a new constitution, held free elections and formed a coalition government with secular and moderate Islamists in a region otherwise struggling with upheaval.
But political progress has not been matched by economic advances. Unemployment stands at about 15 percent, up from 12 percent in 2010, due to weak growth and low investment.
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