Beji Caid Essebsi, a member of the old guard and a central figure in Tunisia’s democratic transition, died Thursday in a military hospital. Essebsi headed the secular party Nidaa Tounes and became the country’s first democratic president in 2014. Serving as an interior minister and minister of defense under the country’s first ruler Habib Bourguiba, Essebsi took two decades off before helping to build a free Tunisia. He had declined to run for re-election in November.
How will he be remembered? Essebsi pushed through many secular laws that benefited women, but critics say he also protected corrupt officials from the previous regime.