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The UGTT union in Tunisia accuses President Saied of using coercion and oppression

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The influential UGTT trade union in Tunisia has accused President Kais Saied of using it as a target to divert attention away from the nation’s historically low voter turnout and what has been dubbed a “total failure” of his economic policies.

Anis Kaabi, a senior official in the union, had been arrested earlier in the week. On Friday, February 3, UGTT chief Noureddine Taboubi called a meeting in Gammarth to discuss the arrest.

High inflation and a shortage of essential goods are problems for the nation.

The president is attempting to deflect attention away from the historically low voter turnout in the first and second rounds of the legislative elections as well as the abject failure of his economic and social policies, according to Mr. Taboubi.

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Last weekend, Tunisia held elections for a parliament that Saied had de-authorized. Nearly 90% of voters boycotted it in response to accusations that he was attempting to intimidate his political rivals.

Why is the UGTT a target, Mr. Taboubi continued? as a result of [the authorities’] desire to enact the difficult reforms they are constantly discussing.

“They need to divert the public with trivia by claiming that the UGTT is to blame for this situation in order to pass these painful reforms.”

According to the leader of the union federation with a million members, which shared the 2015 Nobel Peace Prize for its contribution to Tunisia’s democratic transition, Kaabi’s arrest was made to “send a clear message, that the UGTT is a target.”

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After toll collectors in Tunisia went on strike for better pay on Monday, tolls normally paid to the government-owned highways company were not collected for two days. Kaabi was detained as a result.

The 11.4 percent turnout, according to government critics, was a rejection of Saied’s post-revolutionary political system, which gave him new authority and made him essentially impeachable.

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