Tunisia’s electoral commission said on Wednesday it had approved 26 candidates including two women for next month’s presidential election and had rejected 71 other applicants.
The Sept. 15 vote follows the death at age 92 last month of Beji Caid Essebsi, the first president to be democratically elected in Tunisia after the popular uprising of 2011. It will be the third free election in Tunisia since that uprising.
Tunisia was the spark for the Arab Spring revolts that toppled a number of authoritarian regimes around North Africa and the Middle East.
Among candidates approved for the presidential race are Prime Minister Youssef Chahed, former premier Mehdi Jomaa, the vice-president of the moderate Islamist party Ennahda, Abdel Fattah Mourou, and Defence Minister Abdelkarim Zbidi.
Former Tunisian president Moncef Marzouki and Nabil Karoui, businessman and owner of the private channel Nessma TV, will also join the race.
The two women candidates approved are former tourism minister Salma Loumi and Abir Moussi, a staunch supporter of veteran leader Zine El Abidine Ben Ali who was ousted in the 2011 uprising.
Tunisia’s president controls foreign and defense policy, governing alongside a prime minister chosen by parliament who has authority over domestic affairs.