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28.05.2019 Tunisia

Tunisia media magnate announces presidential bid

By AFP
Media magnate Nabil Karoui is looking to become Tunisia's president at elections in November.  By FETHI BELAID (AFP)
MAY 28, 2019 TUNISIA
Media magnate Nabil Karoui is looking to become Tunisia's president at elections in November. By FETHI BELAID (AFP)

The controversial founder of a major private television channel in Tunisia has said he will run for presidency of the North African nation in November polls.

Nabil Karoui, 50, announced his decision late Monday in a live interview with his broadcaster Nessma TV, playing up his highly-publicised charity work.

Karoui is looking to take over from outgoing President Beji Caid Essesbi, 92, whom he backed during the last election in 2014.

The media boss has been accused by regulators and some politicians of using Nessma to bolster his ambitions.

Karoui has launched high-profile charity campaigns in recent years, handing out food and clothing in front of cameras from Nessma, which he launched in 2007.

"I met people, I helped them, neighbourhood by neighbourhood," he said as he announced his candidacy.

"I saw the difficulty in which these people live."

Karoui said he had drawn together a group of experts to compile a programme and list of candidates for parliamentary elections in October.

Tunisia's broadcast watchdog last year seized equipment from Nessma after accusing it of trying to "influence" state bodies.

Essebsi, Tunisia's first democratically elected president, said in April he did not plan to stand for re-election but would make way for someone younger.

Tunisia, whose 2011 revolt toppled longtime dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and sparked the Arab Spring uprisings, has been hailed as a model of democratisation in the Arab world despite suffering economic woes and jihadist attacks.

None of the country's main political parties have yet announced their candidates for the presidential polls.

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