Beji Caid Essebsi, Tunisia’s 92-year-old president, has said he does not wish to contest elections scheduled for later this year but added he is yet to make a final decision.
“I do not have the intention to be nominated for a second term although the constitution gives me the right to run again,” Essebsi told a meeting of the ruling Nidaa Tounes party in the coastal city of Monastir on Saturday.
“I think Tunisia deserves change. It is full of qualified men,” he added, according to state news agency TAP. “It is necessary to clear the way for the youth.”
However, Essebsi, who has been in power since late 2014, said “it is still too early to say if we will run or not” and promised to announce his decision “in due time”.
Tunisia’s presidential elections are due to be held in November. The polls will be the country’s third after the 2011 uprising that toppled long-time autocrat Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.
So far, no prominent figures have declared their candidacy for the presidency.
Nidaa Tounes was founded by Essebsi in 2012, but a series of events in recent months has exposed deep internal divisions.
Earlier in the year, dozens of former Nidaa Tounes members resigned and formed Tahya Tounes (Long Live Tunisia). The newly founded party is expected to be led by Prime Minister Youssef Chahed and to run in the upcoming elections.
The North African country is widely seen as the sole democratic success story of the so-called Arab Spring uprisings during 2010-11 but has struggled with an economic slowdown and social unrest.
Tunisia has also experienced a series of attacks by armed groups which have dealt a blow to its vital tourism industry.
In March 2015, 21 tourists and a Tunisian police officer were killed when gunmen attacked the Bardo National Museum in the capital, Tunis.
Three months later, 38 tourists, mostly Britons, were killed in an attack at a hotel in the coastal city of Sousse.
The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant group (ISIL or ISIS) had claimed responsibility for both the attacks.
Al Jazeera and news agencies