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Tunisia: major union demands Saied to present political vision

Protesters gather upon calling of Tunisian General Labour Union (UGTT) to stage a demonstration demanding that the ministries fulfill their reform promises for the region in Kairouan, Tunis on December 03, 2020. [ Yassine Gaidi - Anadolu Agency]
Protesters gather upon calling of Tunisian General Labour Union (UGTT) to stage a demonstration demanding that the ministries fulfill their reform promises for the region in Kairouan, Tunis on December 03, 2020. [ Yassine Gaidi - Anadolu Agency]

In what appears to be a remarkable development, the Tunisian General Labour Union (UGTT), the largest trade union and national organisation in Tunisia, has called on President Kais Saied to present his vision for the next political phase. Saied introduced a number of exceptional measures on 25 July, including the dismissal of the prime minister and the freezing of parliament as he took executive control of the country.

The UGTT supported Saied's move, but after waiting for him to take the next step forward, he has instead extended the measures indefinitely. The union is seeking clarification of the situation.

Secretary-General Noureddine Taboubi said that it is necessary to clarify the vision for everyone so that the Tunisian people know where the country is heading and to avoid confusion. "We will not cry over the past, but today we look to the future and it is my right as a Tunisian and like any other citizen to know where the country is heading."

READ: Tunisia parties tried to get US to condemn president's actions as 'coup'

Since announcing his measures in July, Saied has neither appointed a new prime minister nor presented a roadmap for managing the next phase. He has been content with confirming that he has no intention of turning back and hinting that he will restore the sovereignty of the people. This was a reference to political reforms that are widely expected to affect the political system and the constitution, with intentions to hold early elections.

However, Saied's ambiguous speeches and refusal to talk to the media have prompted reservations at home and among Tunisia's partners abroad.

"It is my right that you [President Saied] present to me the vision that will establish a civilian state and social democracy, and include justice, fairness, the rule of law and institutions, public freedoms and human rights," explained Taboubi. He hinted at the possibility of a disagreement with the president.

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