Tunisia's powerful union rejects December polls, attacks president's agenda

© Fethi Belaid, AFP

Tunisia's powerful labour union attacked the president's political and economic agenda on Saturday, including elections this month, saying it will no longer accept what it called a threat to democracy in its clearest challenge to him yet.

The UGTT union says it has more than a million members and has proven able to paralyse the economy with strikes. It has at times backed President Kais Saied after he seized most powers last year, but on other occasions has voiced tepid opposition.

"We no longer accept the current path because of its ambiguity and individual rule, and the unpleasant surprises it hides for the fate of the country and democracy," UGTT's leader Noureddine Taboubi said in a speech to thousands of supporters.

"We will not hesitate to defend rights and freedoms whatever the cost," he added, in his strongest criticism yet of the president.

Saied shut down the elected parliament last year and moved to rule by decree before writing a new constitution that was passed this summer in a referendum with low turnout, setting up elections for a new, weakened legislature on Dec. 17.

>> Tunisia’s referendum: Victory for ‘yes’ vote, but failure for revolution

Most political parties are boycotting the poll, saying the new parliament will have no power and faulting procedures the president has decreed, which include bringing the electoral commission under his purview.


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