Middle East Online (September 04, 2004)
Ben Ali presents presidential candidacy, reformist momentum to continue
Tunisian leader determined to continue accomplishments, successes, in climate of solidarity, harmony.
The Bardo-Tunis, Tunisia - exclusive-- As he formally presented his candidacy to a new term in office, Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali pledged Friday to continue the "momentum of reform" he set in motion since 1987 and said Tunisia will remain "the homeland of all Tunisians, men and women, all of them sharing in the same rights, opportunities, obligations and duties."
Ben Ali's statements came in remarks he made before cheering crowds as he spoke from a balcony overlooking the courtyard of the Constitutional Council in the outskirts of the capital city Tunis.
Ben Ali is expected to run against three other contenders in the presidential elections scheduled for October 24, 2004.
After presenting his candidacy papers to the head of the Constitutional Council, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali walked into the balcony overlooking the courtyard of the Constitutional Council where he announced to a crowd of cheering supporters: "A few moments ago I have submitted my candidacy to the office of President." The enthusiastic gathering then broke into cries of "long live Tunisia-long live Ben Ali!"
"I am proud to respond to the call of duty and to renew my pledge to Tunisia and to our people," he continued.
Ben Ali emphasized his determination to continue leading Tunisia towards "further accomplishments and successes, in a climate of solidarity, cooperation, cooperation, harmony between all the sons and daughters of this land."
"We want this reformist momentum, to which we have come to be accustomed, to continue for the purpose of providing the prerequisites of progress and wellbeing to all groups, regions and generations," he said.
Ben Ali is credited with various reforms since coming to power. Under his stewardship, Tunisia has seen opposition parties enter parliament and pluralistic presidential elections organized for the first time in the country's history. Other reforms have allowed women to play a larger role in public life and enabled the economy to sustain an average growth rate of nearly 5% since 1987.
"Tunisia will remain always the homeland of all Tunisians, men and women, all of them sharing the same rights, opportunities, obligations and duties," also said Ben Ali.