August 22, 2019 / 5:19 PM / a month ago

Tunisian PM delegates his powers to focus on presidential race

FILE PHOTO: Tunisia's Prime Minister Youssef Chahed, leader of the secular Tahya Tounes party, speaks during a rally in Tunis, Tunisia August 8, 2019. REUTERS/Zoubeir Souissi

TUNIS (Reuters) - Tunisian Prime Minister Youssef Chahed will temporarily delegate his powers to Public Service Minister Kamal Morjane to focus on his candidacy for the presidency and to ensure equal opportunities for all candidates, he said on Thursday.

The Sept. 15 vote follows the death at age 92 last month of Beji Caid Essebsi, the first president to be democratically elected in Tunisia after the popular uprising of 2011.

Chahed is competing in a race crowded with prominent figures, including the current defense minister Abd El karim Zbidi, the vice president of Ennahda Islamist party Abdel Fattah Mourou and former prime minister Mehdi Jomaa.

Former Tunisian president Moncef Marzouki and Nabil Karoui, a businessman and owner of the private channel Nessma TV, will also stand.

Chahed, Mourou and Zbidi are likely frontrunners.

“In order to ensure the transparency of the presidential election and the equal opportunities between all candidates, I am temporarily delegating my powers until the end of the campaign for the Minister of Public Service, Kamal Morjane.”, Chahed said in a speech.

The election campaign runs from Sept. 1 to 13.

Tunisia’s president controls foreign and defense policy, governing alongside a prime minister chosen by parliament who has authority over domestic affairs.

Reporting by Tarek Amara; Editing by Alexandra Hudson

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