Tunisia labor union urges president to accept ‘dialogue’
More than 3,000 people demonstrated against Tunisia’s government on Saturday at a rally organized by the UGTT trade union, which called on President Kaid Saied to accept “dialogue.”
Saied has pushed through sweeping changes to the political system in the country.
In a major crackdown, police have arrested around 20 prominent political figures over the past two weeks, primarily Saied’s opponents.
Demonstrators marched in Tunis on Saturday, also calling for “a halt to impoverishment” in the North African country.
UGTT chief Noureddine Taboubi accused the government of targeting the powerful union as part of a wider crackdown against critics.
Taboubi condemned the latest wave of arrests and the imprisonment since February of Anis Kaabi, a top UGTT official for highway workers, who had been detained after a strike by toll barrier employees. “We will never accept such arrests,” Taboubi told the protesters.
The UGTT has around 1 million members and shared a Nobel Peace Prize in 2015 with three other civil society groups for promoting national dialogue in the country of about 12 million inhabitants.
More than 3,000 people took part in the rally.
Taboubi called on Saied to embrace “dialogue” and “democratic” ways.
The UGTT chief also defended “the rights of migrants, regardless of their nationality or the color of their skin.”
“Tunisia is a country of tolerance, no to racism,” he told the crowd.
Saied last month ordered officials to take “urgent measures” to tackle irregular migration, claiming without evidence that “a criminal plot” was underway “to change Tunisia’s demographic makeup.”