Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon arrived in Tunisia early this morning where he met with President Moncef Marzouki to pledge full United Nations support for the north African nation in its forthcoming elections and transition to democracy.
“The President and I just had a very productive meeting. I welcomed the way he runs the country without compromising on principles, at this critical time in the history of Tunisia,” said Mr. Ban told journalists in the capital of Tunis.
Tunisia’s upcoming elections will mark an important milestone on Tunisia’s road to democracy, Mr. Ban said pledging that the UN will do its utmost to ensure that elections are open to all, transparent and peaceful.
The UN has already “actively supported the democratic transition with technical assistance on elections, transitional justice and Tunisia’s extremely valuable Constitution,” he added.
Last January, Tunisia’s Parliament adopted the constitution, the country’s first since massive public demonstrations ousted President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in early 2011, the first regime to be toppled in the so-called Arab Spring.
“Tunisia raised hopes across North Africa, the Middle East and the globe when the Arab Spring was born here. And Tunisia has risen to high expectations by staying true to its ideals,” Mr. Ban said, adding that both he and the Tunisian President are both deeply concerned about the situation in Libya.
“Here we see that with integrity, leadership, civic engagement and commitment, peaceful revolution leads to promising stability,” Mr. Ban told reporters, commending the Tunisian Government and the Tunisian people for the great success they have achieved.
“Tunisians have shown the power of inclusive national dialogue. This is an important example for countries of this region. When leaders listen to their people, respond to their needs and work for their aspirations, countries enjoy peace and prosperity,” he added.
Mr. Ban’s meeting with the Tunisian President was followed by a discussion with Mustapha Ben Jaafar, President of the National Constitutional Assembly, as well as the Presidents of a number of Parliamentary Groups.
At a later press conference following what he called a “very productive” meeting with Foreign Minister Mongi Hamdi, the Secretary-General said he looked forward to speaking with members of civil society. Mr. Ban is planned tomorrow to meet with representatives of non-governmental organizations, journalists, activists and others who have helped create the “new Tunisia,” he added.
Referring to the progress Tunisia has undertaken, Mr. Ban said this is “promising ground to build on.” Now Tunisia needs to create new economic opportunities, advance social justice, promote human rights, secure gender equality and counter terrorism.
“You deserve international support as you solidify this progress,” added the Secretary-General.