Former Tunisian Transport Minister Abdel-Rahim Zouari works in his office in Tunis, October 8, 2014. (REUTERS/Zoubeir Souissi)
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At Tunis airport arrivals terminal last month, hundreds of Tunisians gathered waving flags to greet a special guest – not a sports legend or popstar, but a former minister from ousted President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali's government.Prominent among candidates for the legislature and for the presidency are former officials and Cabinet ministers from the Ben Ali regime, who are pitting themselves against the Islamist party that governed after Tunisia's first free election.Tunisia's democratic transition contrasts sharply with Egypt and Libya, which have both struggled with the role of former regime officials versus new political systems since their own 2011 revolutions.In Tunisia's 2011 election, a temporary law prevented all officials of former regime from participating. But now they can participate in elections after the Ennadha agreed with secular opponents to reject the new draft law to ban Ben Ali officials.The assassination of two opposition leaders last year by Islamist extremist gunmen tipped Tunisia into a political crisis that eventually forced Ennahda to step down and make way for a transitional government that will rule until the elections.Beji Caid Essebsi – the head of Nida Tounes and a former president of Ben Ali's parliament in 1991 – has become a leading presidential candidate after becoming a rallying figure for secular opposition during last year's crisis.
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