Tunisia's Islamists decline to endorse any candidate in upcoming presidential elections

Tunisia's influential Islamist party says it will not be endorsing a candidate in the presidential elections set for Nov. 23.

The endorsement of the moderate Islamist Ennahda Party, which is not running a candidate of its own, was expected to be a major factor in the election.

The party announced early Saturday following an overnight meeting that its supporters were free to vote for any candidate.

There are 27 candidates running for the supreme office in the country, with 87-year-old Beji Caid Essebsi widely seen as the front-runner. There had been speculation that Ennahda would back incumbent President Moncef Marzouki against Essebsi in the coming elections.

Essebsi's liberal party Nida Tunis (Tunisia's Call) won the most seats in October's parliamentary elections, running largely on an anti-Ennahda platform.