News Brief

Tunisia's President Beji Caid Essebsi has Passed Away

The head-of-state, who was admitted into hospital only yesterday, was 92.

President Beji Caid Essebsi of Tunisia, has passed away according to the BBC. Essebsi was the Northern African country's first democratically elected president after the "Arab Spring" uprisings back in 2014. Essebsi's predecessor, former President Zine el-Abedine Ben Ali, had been in office for just over two decades before he was ousted in 2011 at the age of 74.


Essebsi was reportedly admitted into hospital on Wednesday after suffering a "severe health crisis" Tunisian officials report. Late last month, the ailing head-of-state was hospitalized and his son, Hafedh Caid Essebsi, expressed to the AFP news agency that his father's condition was quite dire.

Following the "Arab Spring" uprisings in 2014, Essebsi helped draft a constitution that guaranteed freedom of speech and prepared the country for its first free elections. Additionally, he was a part of the proceedings that led to the power-sharing deal between the Nidaa Tounes movement and Islamist Ennahda party which lessened the instability and violence within Tunisia at the time.

According to Youssef Cherif, the deputy director at Columbia Global Centers, the parliamentary speaker, Mohamed Ennaceur, will likely take over over as interim president until Tunisia carries out its elections in November.

Speaking about the constitutionality of the process, Cherif said, "The president has been unwell for almost a month now, so for the last few weeks there was a lot of discussion inside the corridors of the presidency, the parliament, the prime minister's office to find a way without having a constitutional court."

He added that, "Constitutional experts say the parliament speaker will be the interim president for about two months, and then either elections will happen after two months, or elections that were anyway scheduled to take place between October and December will take place."

Interview

Angelique Kidjo Writes a Love Letter to 'Mother Nature'

We talk to the Beninese musical icon about assembling her new album on Zoom and the "bigger than COVID-19" threat that lies ahead!

The kind of infectious energy that lives within Angelique Kidjo can't be contained by Zoom. Her zest for life reaches out far beyond any screen, and burns stronger than the fastest internet connection.

"I can't wait until we're in person hugging again," she enthuses soon after joining our Zoom meeting to discuss her latest album Mother Nature. Having been on the receiving end of a hug from the four-time Grammy-winning singer, I know exactly what I'm missing out on. "Me too," I say, as I wrap my arms around my laptop, my face squishing the screen. "No, no," she retorts. "I don't want that. You keep it. I want the real deal," she chuckles, her full-bodied trademark laughter lovingly admonishing me.

The Benin-born musician is preparing to release Mother Nature, a collection of songs reflecting our one Earth, and cementing her status as an African musical icon. Collaborating with the likes of Yemi Alade, Mr Eazi, Burna Boy, Sampa the Great, Shungudzo and more, Kidjo's crossing through time and space, over age and country through Mother Nature's themes and stories. Each track is infused with a vigor that only she possesses — the kind that shares a significant message even as the listener is called to just dance or sing along.

Below, Angelique Kidjo reminisces about making the album, and chats us through her hopes and dreams for it!

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