Tunisia's 92-year-old president said Saturday he did not plan to stand for re-election in the November polls, in order to make way for someone younger.
His speech before thousands of members at the party's congress came several days after Abdelaziz Bouteflika, the 82-year-old ailing leader of neighbouring Algeria, resigned in the face of huge protests ending two decades in power.
Essebsi's secularist Nidaa Tounes won the 2014 elections and formed a coalition with the Islamist-inspired Ennahdha that lasted four years before the two parties split.
Tunisia, whose 2011 revolt toppled longtime dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and sparked the Arab Spring uprisings, has been hailed as a model of democratisation in the Arab world, but has faced economic woes and jihadist attacks.
None of the North African country's main political parties have yet announced their candidates for the presidential polls.
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