Chahed delegates powers to campaign for Tunisia presidency

Tunisian PM says he wants to devote himself to September presidential election, avoid any conflict of interest.

TUNIS - Tunisian Prime Minister Youssef Chahed on Thursday said he was delegating his powers in order to devote himself to the September presidential election which he hopes to win.

"I have decided to delegate the powers of the head of government to the public services minister until the end of the election campaign," Chahed said on state television.

He said he took that decision in order "to avoid any conflict of interest" as he campaigns for the country's top job between September 2 and 13.

Originally scheduled for November, the presidential polls in the North African country have been brought forward to September 15 following the death of incumbent Beji Caid Essebsi last month.

Chahed was among nearly 100 presidential hopefuls who had thrown their hats into the ring to become Tunisia's next president.

The country's electoral commission has so far validated only 26 names, and is due to publish a final list by the end of this month.

Chahed, 43, the country's youngest prime minister, faces possible competition from Abdelfattah Mourou of the Islamist-inspired Ennahdha party as well as from controversial media magnate Nabil Karoui.