Tunisian president to launch talks on economic and social reform

The dialogue was proposed by the Tunisian General Labour Union

Tunisian President Kais Saied (L) arrives to attend the opening of the Libyan Political Dialogue Forum hosted in Gammarth on the outskirts of Tunisia's capital, on November 9, 2020. (Photo by FETHI BELAID / AFP)
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Tunisian President Kais Saied will launch a national dialogue in the coming weeks that will include political parties and youth from all regions, his office said on Wednesday.

The presidency said the dialogue proposed by the powerful Tunisian General Labour union (UGTT) seeks economic, social and political reforms as people protest against bad public services, widespread unemployment and corruption almost a decade on from the country’s uprising.

Ten years ago, mass demonstrations against poverty, marginalisation and unemployment brought down the government of Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. The unrest triggered a wave of uprisings in Egypt, Libya and Syria, among other countries.

Despite that, Tunisia is an example of peaceful transition in a region struggling elsewhere with violence and upheaval.

Later, its economic and social situation worsened and the country became on the verge of bankruptcy and the protests increased.

“The dialogue aims to correct the process of the revolution, which has been diverted from its true path that the people set 10 years ago, which is employment, freedom and dignity,” the presidency said.

Noureddine Taboubi, head of UGTT, which led talks to reach a consensus between secularists and Islamists in 2013.

The initiative “is a glimmer of hope to correct the process of the revolution,” he said.

The trade union was among Tunisia’s National Dialogue Quartet, which won the Nobel Peace prize in 2015 for helping to build democracy.