Tunisia’s Prime Minister Youssef Chahed, leader of the secular Tahya Tounes party, submitted Thursday his candidacy for the presidential election expected to take place in September.
The September 15 vote comes after Beji Caid Essebsi, the first president to be democratically elected in Tunisia after the 2011 uprising, died last month aged 92.
Ninety-eight people had thrown their hats into the ring to be Tunisia's next president as the deadline ended Friday.
With the clock ticking down to the official for deadline applications, 13 people had rushed in their paperwork by midday Friday joining dozens who have already declared their interest, the country's election commission told AFP.
Tunisia’s Independent High Electoral Authority (ISIE) received 29 applications over the first five days from the beginning of the race on August 2 and 11 applications on the sixth day.
Defense Minister Abdul Karim al-Zubaidi resigned from his post after submitting his candidacy to run for the presidential elections on Wednesday.
However, Government spokesman Iyad Dahmani confirmed in a press statement that Chahed’s candidacy does not necessarily mean he must resign from his current post.
Dahmani pointed out that the premier will delegate his powers to a minister in the same government.
“It is impossible to form a government during this sensitive period, which is full of political deadlines,” he stressed.
The spokesman accused supporters of Chahed’s resignation of “attempting to overthrow the entire government and disrupt the presidential and parliamentary elections” in the country.
"Anyone who is seeking my resignation is in fact aiming to delay the elections and my resignation means the resignation of the government," Chahed said.
Local political sources have indicated that Chahed will delegate Kamel Morjane, former head of the Initiative Party that has fully merged with Tahya Tounes.
They explained that his move aims at satisfying those who have disapproved the unified electoral lists, whose members will run in the parliamentary elections scheduled for October 6.
Ennahda Party has nominated its Vice President Abdel Fattah Mourou to run in the presidential election for the first time since the country transitioned to democracy in 2011.
“You will choose a leader and a father for you...Someone who is not only passionate about his people but also wants to establish the state, preserve the law and help applying it to everyone,” Mourou addressed people, stressing that this could only be achieved with people’s help and understanding.
Ennahda Party had participated in 1989 parliamentary elections, which followed the rise of former President Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali to power.
It accused the state back then with vote rigging and excluding them from the political scene.
During 23 years in power, the former regime did not allow members of the country’s opposition parties to participate in the presidential elections.