Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has expressed condolences to Tunisia over the death of Beji Caid Essebsi, the North African country’s first democratically elected leader.
In a message to his Tunisian counterpart Khamis al-Jahnawi on Thursday, Zarif said he was saddened by the news of death of Essebsi, “who was elected president in a free election by the great Tunisian nation.”
“I offer my condolences to his family and to the friend and brother nation and government of Republic of Tunisia, pray God to have mercy on the deceased’s soul, and emphasize that the Islamic Republic of Iran stands and sympathizes with the Republic of Tunisia’s government and nation,” the top Iranian diplomat added.
Known as one of the world’s oldest leaders, Essebsi died at the age of 92 at the Tunis military hospital on Thursday morning.
The late president was hospitalized with a severe illness in late June, but returned to intensive care on Thursday.
Drafted in as prime minister in 2011 after longtime ruler Zine El Abidine Ben Ali was toppled, Essebsi was elected president three years later, becoming the country’s first directly elected head of state after the Islamic Awakening movement.