Tunisia’s powerful UGTT union elects new leader

– Tunisia’s UGTT labour union, which played a role in the 2011 uprising that toppled the country’s longtime dictator and its post-revolt transition, on Thursday elected a new leader.

Noureddine Taboubi replaces Houcine Abbassi, who took office in 2011 just months after the ouster of strongman Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.

His election caps the annual congress of the Nobel Peace Prize-winning Tunisian General Labour Union.

More than 550 delegates cast ballots in the vote which also elected a 13-member executive bureau — all from Taboubi’s list — and which for the first time includes a woman, Naima Hammami.

Taboubi, 67, was one of two deputies along with Bouali Mbarki who had served under Abbassi.

He is known for having formed good relations over the years with the various factions.

With more than half a million members, the UGTT was among four civil society groups that played an important part in a 2013 national dialogue that helped salvage the country’s democratic transition.

The groups were jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2015.

Abassi, 69, has urged his successor to “continue on the same path of militancy”.

Political analyst Slaheddine Jourchi said he expected the new leadership to have “clear support to carry out changes”.


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