Powerful Tunisian union calls for political system change

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Noureddine Taboubi, general secretary of the Tunisian General Labor Union (UGTT), speaks during an interview with Reuters in Tunis, Tunisia, January 23, 2021. REUTERS / Angus McDowall / File Photo

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TUNIS, September 3 (Reuters) – Tunisia’s powerful union on Friday called on the president to propose changes to the political system and submit them to a referendum after taking power in July in a move labeled a coup.

The UGTT union, which has so far backed President Kais Saied since he sacked the prime minister, suspended parliament and said he was taking executive power, urged him for weeks to appoint a government and to announce a roadmap for the crisis.

Its leader Noureddine Taboubi also indicated on Friday that he would support the changes to the constitution and the political system, blaming them for the stalemate that preceded Saied’s intervention on July 25.

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“The main problem in Tunisia is the political and constitutional system which has paralyzed everything and left no possibility of progress,” he told reporters, adding that any change must be submitted to a referendum.

The president’s actions appear to enjoy broad support after years of economic stagnation and political paralysis.

However, Saied’s delay in appointing a new government or announcing his longer-term plans has caused nervousness among some Tunisians fearing a lack of leadership in the face of major economic challenges or even a return to autocracy.

The president rejected this, saying his actions were legal and rights would be respected, and dismissing concerns about the lack of clarity about his next steps.

“We demand the rapid formation of the government to resolve urgent issues such as unemployment, education, health and the economic and social situation,” Taboubi said.

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Reporting by Tarek Amara; Writing by Angus McDowall; Editing by Alison Williams

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.


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