TUNIS, Tunisia – A Tunisian labor leader at the forefront of a democracy movement that won the Nobel Peace Prize says he hopes it's a boon to his nation — and an example to the world.
"I am happy, I am overwhelmed by this," said Houcine Abassi, secretary general of the UGTT union, still taken aback by the news. He said he found out about the prize for his group and three others in a call from The Associated Press moments after the announcement in Norway.
"It's a prize that crowns more than two years of efforts deployed by the quartet when the country was in danger on all fronts," when political tensions were shaking the country and "stability was threatened," he said.
In 2013, the UGTT and three other disparate groups came together to find a formula to restore Tunisia to its democratic path after political assassinations and scattered extremist violence. Sitting around the same table, he said, they decided to convene all leading political parties "to find a way out of the crisis."
"After much pain and difficulty, we managed to reach a consensus among the political players that allowed us to lead to democratic legislative and presidential elections ... and to the adoption of a progressive constitution," he said.
The prize "is an honor ... for all of Tunisia," he said, expressing hope it would have an effect "for the image of Tunisia in the world" after deadly extremist attacks against tourists this year that have devastated the important tourism industry.
"My wish is also that this recognition has repercussions that will allow Tunisians to unite to face the challenges facing them now - first and foremost, the danger of terrorism."