TUNIS: Tunisia’s powerful national trade union today ratcheted up its criticism of President Kais Saied after a dismal turnout at the national election, urging the country’s civil society not to remain silent.
Only 11.2% of the country’s eligible voters participated in the election last week. UGTT leader Noureddine Taboubi said the huge boycott shows the frustration and despair of Tunisians.
The UGTT union claims to have more than a million members and has previously paralysed the economy with its strikes.
While it backed Saied when he seized most powers last year by shutting the elected parliament, the union has emerged as his fierce critic as he moved to rule by decree and wrote a new constitution that was passed this summer in a referendum.
“It is time for civil society and national organisations, to play their national role. Today, the silence is a crime. We will not let you mess with the country and we will not be afraid of prisons,” Taboubi said.
Tunisians are also reeling with a financial crisis amid surging inflation, rising unemployment, and a shortage of basic food products.
“Today, time is running out, and if you do not understand the message, the people will say their word through peaceful struggle,” he said.
After the low turnout in elections, major parties such as the Salvation Front, which includes the Islamist Ennahda party and its arch-rival the Free Constitutional Party, said Saied should step down, calling for massive protests.