(MENAFN - Gulf Times) Tunisia's National Dialogue Quartet yesterday won the Nobel Peace Prize for helping build democracy in the birthplace of the Arab Spring, an example of peaceful transition in a region otherwise struggling with violence and upheaval.
The quartet of the Tunisian General Labour Union (UGTT), the Tunisian Confederation of Industry, Trade and Handicrafts (UTICA), the Tunisian Human Rights League (LTDH), and the Tunisian Order of Lawyers was formed in the summer of 2013.
It helped support the democratisation process when it was in danger of collapsing, the Norwegian Nobel committee said in its citation.
"This is a great joy and pride for Tunisia, but also a hope for the Arab World," UGTT chief Hussein Abassi told Reuters.
"It's a message that dialogue can lead us on the right path. This prize is a message for our region to put down arms and sit and talk at the negotiation table."
With a new constitution, free elections and a compromise politics between Islamist and secular leaders, Tunisia has been held up as a model of how to make the transition to a democracy from dictatorship.
"This a brilliant example, I think Tunisia is one of the Arab countries that has done best since the so-called Arab Spring and the upheavals in that part of the world," said Ahmad Fawzi, chief UN spokesman in Geneva.
The Nobel Peace Prize, worth 8mn Swedish crowns ($972,000), will be presented in Oslo on December 10.
The Norwegian Nobel Committee praised the quartet for providing an alternative, peaceful political process at a time when the country was on the brink of civil war.
"More than anything, the prize is intended as an encouragement to the Tunisian people, who despite major challenges have laid the groundwork for a national fraternity which the Committee hopes will serve as an example to be followed by other countries," it said.
Committee head Kaci Kullman Five told Reuters: "I think it's timely to put the limelight on the positive results that have been obtained in Tunisia to try to safeguard them, to try to inspire the Tunisian people to build further on this basis."
After an uprising that led to the ousting of autocrat Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali in 2011 and inspired the "Arab Spring" protests, Tunisia now has a new constitution, free elections and a coalition government with secular and Islamist parties.