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Arabic press review: Tunisia's Essebsi vows not to run again for presidency

Essebsi, 92, reiterated that he would not run again after Nidaa Tounes announced plans to put him forward for the upcoming presidential elections
Essebi said Tunisia's democracy was still 'fragile' due to the country's lack of progress in improving its economy (Reuters)

Tunisia's ageing president, Beji Caid Essebi, has announced his intention to not run again in elections later this year, in an interview with the UK-based Al-Quds Al-Arabi

Speaking after the Arab League summit, Essebsi, who is 92, said he was not convinced that seeking another term would be in the country's interest. 

Essebsi asserted: "I would go in any path that serves Tunisia’s interests, and I am not yet convinced that my candidacy for the presidency again would help Tunisia.

"It is true that the constitution gives me the right to do so, but I do not necessarily have to use it. I will wait for the deadlines of submission of candidacy and decide what to do."

Essebsi’s comment came in response to Nidaa Tounes's intention to nominate him, stressing that he "cannot turn a blind eye" to the party that he founded.

"I realise that it is going through difficulties and is being targeted, but I will not defend it, as its supporters will rather do."

President Essebsi said that eight years after the revolution, Tunisia's democratic experience “is still fragile as long as we have not yet achieved progress in the economic field."

Speaking on the region, he said he had "no concerns" over the deteriorating political situation in Algeria.

"The Algerian people have a significant level of awareness, and they are fully aware of the dangers of difference," said Essebsi. 

Close 'understandings' between Gaza and Israel

A senior Palestinian official in Gaza said that various international delegations who have visited the besieged territory had called on the Hamas leadership to reach a series of "understandings" with Israel in a bid to help improve the besieged strip's humanitarian solution. 

Speaking on the condition of anonymity, an official told Arabi21 that "many delegations had come to Gaza to mediate and help reach a series of understandings with Israel."   

The source pointed out that "those understandings are related to the humanitarian situation in Gaza and have no political dimension". 

The official added that Egypt was the "main actor behind these talks" between the Palestinian factions in Gaza and Israel. 

The official added that the "understandings" they hoped to reach with Israel include “expanding the fishing area, re-operating the industrial and agricultural sectors and enhancing the movement of trade through opening the crossings."

The understandings included providing new job opportunities for young people, health and education, infrastructure projects and solving the problem of electricity, the official added.

The official denied postponing the understandings it hoped to enact till after the Israeli elections, stating that some of the programmes will "require time to be carried out".

Saudi Arabia gives Iraq $1bn grant

Saudi Arabia's Minister of Commerce and Investment Majid al-Qasabi, revealed that the kingdom would provide Iraq with $1bn grant alongside King Salman’s offer to build a sports town in Iraq, according to the Saudi newspaper Asharq al-Awsat.

The Saudi minister's statement coincided with the arrival of a senior Saudi delegation headed by al-Qasabi to Baghdad to attend the second session of the Saudi-Iraqi Coordination Council.

The Iraqi ambassador to Riyadh, Qahtan al-Janabi, told the newspaper that it is the largest delegation Saudi Arabia has sent in 30 years, which include 100 officials and seven ministers. 

The Saudi and Iraqi sides signed a memorandum of understanding in Baghdad to increase trade as well as investment and economic cooperation.

* Arabic press review is a digest of reports that are not independently verified as accurate by Middle East Eye.