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Tunisia approves 26 candidates to run for president in September vote 

Twenty-six candidates, including two women, have been approved to run in Tunisia's early presidential elections slated for September 15, the country's electoral commission announced on Wednesday.

Twenty-six candidates, including two women, have been approved to run in Tunisia’s early presidential elections slated for September 15, the country’s electoral commission announced on Wednesday.

The 26 were accepted out of a total of 97 hopefuls who had submitted applications to run for president, head of the commission Nabil Baffoun told a press conference.

Among the approved candidates are Tunisian Prime Minister Youssef Chahed, Defence Minister Abdelkarim Zbidi and media mogul Nabil Karoui.

They also include Abdelfattah Morou of the influential moderate Islamist Ennahda movement, former president Moncef Marzouki and former prime minister Mehdi Jomaa.

The two approved female candidates are former tourism minister Salma Loumi and politician Abeer Mousa, seen as a loyalist of toppled autocrat Zine El Abidine Ben Ali’s regime.

Tunisia’s first democratically elected president, Beji Caid Essebsi, died on July 25, five months before the end of his term. Presidential elections were pushed forward to September 15 as a result.

Essebsi was elected in December 2014 and subsequently steered Tunisia through its democratic transition in the wake of the 2011 revolt that toppled Ben Ali.

The North African country is widely seen as the sole democratic success story of the 2010-11 Arab Spring revolts, but has struggled with an economic slowdown and social unrest.

The 71 rejected candidates will be allowed to challenge the commission’s decision, and a final list will be announced by August 31.

Election campaigning will kick off on September 2 and will run until September 13.

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