Thousands of Tunisians turned out to mourn and celebrate the life of President Beji Caid Essebsi at his state funeral last week following his death on 25 July at the age of 92. Perhaps no other single person can be credited with steering Tunisia out of the political turmoil following the 2011 ouster of long-time ruler Zine al Abidine Ben Ali and into a young democracy.

As prime minister of the transitional government in 2011, the secularist Mr Essebsi could have caused all sorts of problems for the ‘Islamist’ Ennahda party which won the October 2011 elections. He chose not to. Instead, Mr Essebsi handed the government keys to his staunch rivals and decided to form his own political party, Nidaa Tounes. (CONTINUED - 1378 WORDS)