Nobel prize a tribute to 'courage' of Tunisian people: Obama

US President Barack Obama speaking at a Washington State Democratic Party campaign event on Oct 9, 2015.
US President Barack Obama speaking at a Washington State Democratic Party campaign event on Oct 9, 2015. PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON (AFP) - United States President Barack Obama congratulated Tunisian civil society groups who helped secure a democratic transition on their Nobel Peace Prize win Friday (Oct 9), calling it a tribute to the nation's courage.

"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 in a statement.

Obama, who hosted Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi at the White House in May, stressed that "in a region gripped by so much tumult and violence, Tunisia points the way to a better future - one in which stability is pursued through peaceful dialogue, not violence and division."

Tunisia's National Dialogue Quartet hailed the award as both a surprise and a testament to the country's transition to democracy after the 2011 revolution.

The Quartet includes the Tunisian General Labour Union (UGTT), the Tunisian Confederation of Industry, Trade and Handicrafts (UTICA), the Tunisian Human Rights League and the Tunisian Order of Lawyers.

"Just as the world must support the Tunisian people, we must stand with civil society groups around the world who advocate, often at great risk to themselves, for the human rights and inherent dignity of every human being," Obama said.

"In this never-ending work for justice and peace, these fearless men and women have a steadfast partner in the United States of America."

Secretary of State John Kerry also hailed the Quartet.

"As assassinations and street protests roiled domestic politics in 2013, the National Dialogue Quartet played an invaluable role in keeping Tunisia's transition on track," he said.

"Their inspiring achievement is a shining example for all societies that are working towards an inclusive transition from dictatorship to democracy."