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Tunisia: The state is not a game, says largest union

Tunisian General Secretary of Labour Union (UGTT) Noureddine Taboubi in Tunis, Tunisia on 14 January 2020 [Yassine Gaidi/Anadolu Agency]
Tunisian General Secretary of Labour Union (UGTT) Noureddine Taboubi in Tunis, Tunisia on 14 January 2020 [Yassine Gaidi/Anadolu Agency]

The Secretary-General of Tunisia's largest union, Noureddine Taboubi, has criticised President Kais Saied and called on him not to treat the state as a "game".

The head of the Tunisian General Labor Union (UGTT) also criticised for the first time the exceptional measures introduced by Saied in July. He noted that "the awareness of the people" is what saved the country from chaos after the measures disrupted institutions in Tunisia.

"The state has its secrets, dialogues have its controls, the state is not a game and the time factor is very important," Taboubi told state television. "We have to be very careful."

Addressing Saied directly, he added: "On 25 July, there was awareness of the people and the youth [and this prevented the country from sliding into chaos], but you cannot guarantee the same results next time. If the people lose trust on all sides, the state will be absent, which is very dangerous."

He called on the president to gather all Tunisian parties together in the country's best interest.

READ: Tunisia parliament calls on president to reverse 'unconstitutional' decisions

This is the first time that the UGTT has criticised Saied and his exceptional measures directly. Since July, it has issued a cautious welcome to the steps taken by the president, although it has also urged him on several occasions to hold a national dialogue to end the political crisis. Observers believe that the union may change its position in support of President Saied in the event that he continues to "procrastinate" and does not respond to calls for such a dialogue.

Tunisia is facing bankruptcy, which has prompted Moody's credit rating agency to downgrade it from "B3" to "CAA1". This makes it "almost impossible" to obtain international loans in the future.

A few days ago, statements by a member of President Kais Saied's "interpretive campaign" criticising the quartet sponsoring the national dialogue, sparked a wave of condemnation among Tunisian unions. This prompted a spokesman for the Labour Union to say that without the efforts made by the union to restore stability to the country and create conditions for democratic elections, President Saied would not have been elected.

Is Tunisia's state of emergency being used to restrict freedoms? - Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]

Is Tunisia's state of emergency being used to restrict freedoms? – Cartoon [Sabaaneh/Middle East Monitor]

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