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Nobel goes to Tunisia’s pro-democracy groups

OSLO-The Nobel Peace Prize will be awarded on Thursday to four organizations that helped save Tunisia’s transition to democracy through dialogue, a method the laureates are keen to see applied in Syria and Libya.

“Arms can never be a solution, not in Syria nor in Libya. There is a need for dialogue,” Abdessatar Ben Moussa, head of Tunisia’s Human Rights League, told reporters in Oslo on Wednesday.

“No blood and no fighters.”

Along with the Human Rights League, the National Dialogue Quartet is made up of the Tunisian General Labor Union, the Confederation of Industry, Trade and Handicrafts, and the Order of Lawyers.

The Quartet will receive the prestigious honor from the hands of the Norwegian Nobel Committee’s chairwoman, Kaci Kullmann Five, at a ceremony scheduled to begin at 1:00 pm (1200 GMT) at Oslo’s City Hall in the presence of Norway’s King Harald and the Norwegian government.

This year’s Nobel laureates in the fields of medicine, physics, chemistry, literature and economics will receive their prizes at a separate ceremony in Stockholm later Thursday.

The Quartet helped save the country’s transition to democracy at a sensitive moment in 2013 when the process was in danger of collapsing because of widespread social unrest.

The group orchestrated a lengthy and thorny “national dialogue” between the Islamists of the Ennahda party and their opponents.

In honoring the National Dialogue Quartet, the Norwegian Nobel Committee wanted to shine the spotlight on Tunisia as a rare success story to emerge from the Arab Spring, the movement of popular uprisings that started in the country.

While uprisings in neighboring Libya, Yemen and Syria have led to war and chaos, and to the return of repression in Egypt, Tunisia successfully adopted a new constitution in January 2014 and held democratic elections at the end of last year. 

“Tunisia is an exception so far in the Arab Spring countries but this doesn’t mean that it may not be replicated in other countries,” said Houcine Abassi, secretary general of the powerful UTGG.

“Differences, regardless of the nature of those differences, can always be overcome through dialogue,” added Fadhel Mahfoudh, the head of the Order of Lawyers.

But the democratization process remains fragile, amid the threat of jihadism.

Topics: Nobel Peace Prize , Tunisia , pro-democracy groups
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