Tunisia sees 26 candidates for lively presidential election

FILE – In this Sept. 4, 2019 file photo, a woman walks past a wall of campaign posters in Tunis. Twenty-six candidates are running for president of Tunisia in a cacophonous election seen as key to securing the country’s young democracy. The first-round presidential vote is being held Sunday Sept. 15, 2019. (AP Photo/Hassene Dridi, File)

TUNIS, Tunisia (AP) — Tunisia is holding a presidential election this weekend and among the 26 contenders are a jailed media tycoon, two prime ministers and a little-known Islamist with a big voter base.

The first-round election Sunday is seen as key to securing the North African nation’s young democracy as it struggles with economic troubles and Islamic extremism.

Accusations of smear campaigns and corruption have been tossed around ahead of the election, which is being held to replace Tunisia’s democratically elected leader, who died in office in July.

With so many candidates, there’s no clear front-runner, although Prime Minister Youssef Chahed, jailed media magnate Nabil Karoui and Abdelfattah Mourou of the moderate Islamist party Ennahdha are getting attention.

It’s only the second democratic presidential election that Tunisia has held since its “jasmine revolution” in 2011 unleashed the Arab Spring protests.

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