12:35 GMT +313 November 2019
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    Supporters of presidential candidate Nabil Karoui carry placards with his image and slogans in his favour as they rally in front of the tribunal in the Tunisian capital Tunis asking for his release from prison on September 3, 2019.

    Tunisian Presidential Candidate Karoui Will Not Quit Race Despite Arrest

    © AFP 2019 / MOHAMED KHALIL
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    MOSCOW (Sputnik) - Tunisian presidential candidate Nabil Karoui, who was arrested on corruption charges in August, will not leave the race even though criminal proceedings have been launched against him, the candidate's spokesman, Hatem Mliki, said on Friday.

    "Mr Nabil Karoui won't withdraw from the presidential race, and as the campaign team, we will continue to work with his supporters and the Heart of Tunisia party. We are committed to the program, we have decided to submit before he was charged and imprisoned," Mliki said.

    He recalled that Karoui had had the status of a witness in the corruption case for three years and became a defendant soon after the decision to run for president.

    "We are considering this process to be a political one, sought by the government coalition consisting of the Long Live Tunisia and Ennahda parties. These parties had the intention to exclude the most considerable candidate from the electoral race," Mliki noted.

    The spokesman stated that Karoui would continue the fight for democracy and the right to "contribute to the country’s reconstruction after the government's failure" to govern effectively.

    Karoui, 56, was arrested in late August over alleged money laundering soon after the announcement of his plans to run for president.

    Mliki expressed regrets over what he described as an attack on the political transition and democratic process.

    "We regret the attempts to undermine the peaceful handover of power and the democratic process, which has turned into a try to liquidate political opponents, using the state instruments and damaged the international image of Tunisia," the spokesman said.

    Nabil Karoui, Tunisian media magnate and would-be presidential candidate submits his candidacy to Tunisia's electoral commission in the capital Tunis on August 2, 2019.
    © AFP 2019 / HASNA
    Nabil Karoui, Tunisian media magnate and would-be presidential candidate submits his candidacy to Tunisia's electoral commission in the capital Tunis on August 2, 2019.

    He pointed out that Karoui's participation in the campaign had made it more dynamic and his arrest had only boosted his positions, which is contrary to the goals of his political opponents.

    "A huge number of voters joined the list of his supporters to express their rejection of injustice. They discovered that the ruling coalition had turned into a dictatorship, which is ready to do anything to stay in power," Mliki said.

    He noted that various organisations and bodies had condemned the arrest of Karoui.

    "The Labor Union, Tunisian Human Rights League, Association of Tunisian Judges are among these organisations," the candidate's spokesman added.

    The snap presidential election in Tunisia was scheduled for 15 September after the death of former President Beji Caid Essebsi in late July. If no candidate receives a majority of the vote in the first round of the election, a runoff will be held no later than November 3.

    Tags:
    arrest, candidate, presidential election, Tunisia
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