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Obama, Kerry congratulate Tunisian Nobel Peace Prize winners

Barack Obama, John Kerry

Washington :  US President Barack Obama has congratulated Tunisia’s National Dialogue Quartet for winning this year’s Nobel Peace Prize, saying the presitigious award is a tribute to the perseverance and courage of the Tunisian people.

“I congratulate Tunisia’s National Dialogue Quartet on winning the Nobel Peace Prize. This brave coalition of workers, industry, lawyers and human rights advocates is an inspiring reminder that lasting peace and security can only be achieved when citizens are empowered to forge their own future and that democracy is both possible and necessary in the North Africa and the Middle East,” Obama said in a statement.

He said in the five years since a Tunisian fruit vendor set himself on fire to protest an oppressive dictatorship, the Tunisian people have made remarkable strides in building an inclusive democracy and the Quartet has played an indispensable role.

Obama praised the Quartet, a coalition of four key organisations in the north African country, to help bring Tunisians together in a peaceful dialogue when the promise of the Jasmine Revolution was in doubt.

With the Quartet’s support, Tunisians voted in free elections, forged a new constitution that upholds human rights and equality for all people, including women and minorities, and formed a national unity government, including secular and Islamist parties, showing that democracy and Islam can indeed thrive together, Obama said.

“Today’s award is therefore also a tribute to the perseverance and courage of the Tunisian people who, in the face of political assassinations and terrorist attacks, have come together in a spirit of unity, compromise and tolerance,” Obama said.

US Secretary of State John Kerry also congratulated the Quartet for their achievement.

“This extraordinary honour recognizes the critical role civil society organizations played following the Tunisian revolution – by preserving national unity and constructing a political process that led to both a constitution and free and fair national elections,” Kerry said.

He lauded Tunisian leaders from across the political spectrum who worked with the Quartet and others in civil society and made difficult compromises for the sake of the Tunisian people.

“The Tunisian model of inclusivity and respecting fundamental freedoms of all its citizens is the best answer to the violence and extremist ideologies that have torn apart other countries in the region,” Kerry said.

The Quartet comprises four organisations in the north African country: the Tunisian General Labour Union, the Tunisian Confederation of Industry, Trade and Handicrafts, the Tunisian Human Rights League and the Tunisian Order of Lawyers.

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