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Widow of Late Tunisia Leader Essebsi Dies as Presidential Poll Opens

Widow of Late Tunisia Leader Essebsi Dies as Presidential Poll Opens

Sunday, 15 September, 2019 - 10:15
Chadlia Caid Essebsi is seen with her son, Hafedh, at her husband's funeral in July. (AFP)

Chadlia Caid Essebsi, the wife of the late Tunisian president Beji Caid Essebsi, passed away on Sunday as the first round of elections to select her husband's successor began, their son announced.

"My mother Chadlia, widow of Beji Caid Essebsi, is dead, may God bless her," Hafedh Caid Essebsi said on Facebook.

In late July, the 83-year-old had welcomed heads of state who came to pay their respects to her husband, Tunisia's first president elected democratically by universal suffrage who died at the age of 92.

Elegant and discreet, she rarely appeared in public.

"We tell each other everything and he always asks my opinion," she said in a rare interview with Leaders magazine in November 2014, during her husband's campaign.

"This time, I felt that he was so eager to save Tunisia that I couldn't stop him. Sacrifices must be made when it is for one's homeland. Since then, I have undertaken necessary increased security measures, but we try to maintain the same pace of life."

The couple had two daughters and two sons, including Hafedh, who took over the party founded by his father, Nidaa Tounes, at the cost of a power struggle that weakened the party.

Millions of Tunisians were headed to the polls on Sunday to choose Essebsi's successor in an election brought forward from November after his death weeks before the end of his mandate.

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