Tunisian authorities said 26 people, including the prime minister, two women and a moderate radical, have preliminary approval to run in next month’s presidential election.
The varied line-up, which features former Defense Minister Abdelkarim Zbidi, the deputy head of the radical Ennahda Party, Abdelfattah Mourou, and premier Youssef Chahed, was announced Wednesday by Nabil Baffoun, head of the Independent High Authority for Elections.
Another 71 would-be candidates were rejected, and a final list will be announced by August 31 after appeals have been heard.
The election, which was pushed up to September 15 after the death of President Beji Caid Essebsi in late July, comes at a critical time for Tunisia. The North African nation, which gave rise to the Arab Spring uprisings in 2011 that reverberated around the region, is struggling to revive its economy.
The owner of local broadcaster Nessma TV, Nabil Karoui, was also announced as a preliminary candidate, as were Abir Moussi, the head of the Free Constitutional Party, and Salma Loumi, a former tourism minister.
The country’s solid progress on democracy, exemplified by the smooth transition of power after Essebsi’s death, stands in stark contrast to the unrest that has gripped its neighbours.