Obama Invites New Tunisian President to Washington

Obama calls Tunisia's newly elected president, hails the "spirit of peaceful compromise" Tunisians displayed during transition.

Arutz Sheva Staff ,

Beji Caid Essebsi
Beji Caid Essebsi

U.S. President Barack Obama on Monday invited Tunisia's first democratically elected president to visit Washington, the White House said, according to AFP.

Beji Caid Essebsi claimed victory in the country's first free presidential election last month.

Obama called Essebsi Monday to congratulate him on his victory and hailed the "spirit of peaceful compromise" that Tunisians displayed during their period of transition.

He invited the newly elected Tunisian president to visit Washington "to continue their discussion at a mutually agreeable date," the White House said in a statement.

The White House said, however, that no date has yet been set for Essebsi to come to Washington.

Essebsi served as President of Chamber of Deputies under former dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, whose ouster in 2011 kicked off what has come to be known as the “Arab Spring”.

Critics say Essebsi’s former role marks the return of a discredited establishment, but Essebsi says he is a technocrat who will bring stability.

In a general election in October, Essebsi’s secularist Nidaa Tounes party won the most seats in the parliament, beating the Islamist party Ennahda that had won the first free poll in 2011.

Ennahda, which gave up power after being accused by the opposition of seeking to entrench itself in power, disregarding the interests of a large secular urban population and being lenient toward radical Islamists, had chosen not to nominate a candidate to run in the presidential election.