Tunisia’s labour union condemns president after low election turnout

UGTT leader Noureddine Taboubi says Saturday’s vote lacked ‘colour and taste’

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The powerful Tunisian General Labour Union (UGTT) announced that it would be outlining its official decision regarding the current situation in the country, following Saturday’s first round of parliamentary elections.

“Time is up and the situation has rotted,” said UGTT’s secretary general Noureddine Taboubi in a massive rally of the labour union’s agricultural workers federation, on Tuesday morning.

The labour union leader described the elections as “colourless and tasteless” and called on all politicians in the country for proper dialogue to guide Tunisia out of its current predicament.

Supporters cheer as UGTT chief Noureddine Taboubi (unseen) addresses the crowd at a protest against the situation in Tunisia’s agricultural sector, in Tunis on Tuesday. EPA

Mr Taboubi criticised President Kais Saied’s lack of response to the social and economic demands of the people, stating that a calendar has been set for sectorial federation meetings this week, followed by a national meeting of its administrative body, which will take “the most adequate decision for the sake of the country”.

“True legitimacy comes from accomplishments and what has been provided for those who have trusted Kais Saied with their votes,” Mr Taboubi said on Tuesday.

Only 11.2 per cent of Tunisian voters cast ballots in the parliamentary elections, said Farouk Bouasker, head of the electoral commission, after most political parties boycotted the poll, and due to an increasing sense of political apathy among Tunisians, as well as growing distrust in the ruling elite.

UGTT’s secretary general also criticised the government’s handling of the deteriorating economic situation in Tunisia, stressing that the exact content of the agreement between the Tunisia's leaders and the International Monetary Fund remained unclear.

Tunisia’s economy has been crumbling in the past decade, with shortages of essential items and increasing inflation worsening the situation during the past few months.

The international lender has also called on the government to reduce state subsidies, freeze public sector employment and end support for failing public institutions — all of which UGTT opposes.

Updated: December 20, 2022, 5:01 PM