In May 2017, President Donald Trump made the acquaintance of Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi at the G-7 summit.
But the White House will be sad to learn that according to Fox News, Essebsi has died at the age of 92.
Landmark leader gone
The passing of Essebsi was confirmed by officials this morning.
“On Thursday morning,” his office wrote, “the President of the Republic died at the military hospital in [Tunisia’s capital of] Tunis.”
The funeral is set for Saturday. The country’s prime minister has declared seven days of national mourning.
The cause of Essebsi’s death has not been revealed, but in recent weeks, concerns about his health had mounted following three hospitalizations. In one video, taken within the past week, Essebsi looked like a shell of his former self.
Getting to know Essebsi
At 92, Essebsi was the oldest president in the world, a position he was just getting ready to relinquish, The New York Times reports. Just recently, the politician, who has been part of the political scene since the 1950s, announced that he would not be seeking reelection this November, saying a younger person should be leading the country.
With that being said, even in his old age — he did not become president until 2014 at the age of 88 — Essebsi played an important role for his North African country.
Following a 2011 revolt against dictator Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali and the subsequent rise of Islamic fundamentalism, Essebsi was able to win the people over to his more centrist politics, becoming the first democratically elected leader of his country, according to the BBC.
Unfortunately, however, Essebsi was never able to completely calm the region surrounding Tunisia. Now, the question is whether the nation will be able to continue along the path that Essebsi blazed, or regress to dictatorships.
For the time being, Mohamed Ennaceur, the country’s speaker of parliament, will take over for Essebsi, as directed by the Tunisian Constitution.
This will continue until the next presidential election, which has been moved up from Nov. 17 to Oct. 5.