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Tunisians Win Nobel Peace Prize

Houcine Abassi, secretary general of the Tunisian General Labour Union (UGTT), right, is congratulated by unidentified union members in his office at the headquarters in Tunis, Tunisia, Friday, Oct. 9, 2015. Abassi is one of the four members of the Tunisian National Dialogue Quartet to be awarded the 2015 Nobel Peace Prize on Friday by the Norwegian Nobel Committee. (AP Photo)

A Tunisian group has won the Nobel Prize for Peace for bringing democracy to Tunisia after an uprising in 2011.

The group -- named the National Dialogue Quartet -- was formed during unrest in Tunisia. Labor unions, the Tunisian Human Rights League and the Tunisian Order of Lawyers make up the group.

Tunisia’s democracy was weakened and close to collapse. Political leaders had been assassinated. But the group worked to end the violence. Other countries in the area -- like Syria, Libya and Iraq -- have not had results as peaceful.

Kaci Kullman Five leads the Nobel Committee.

“The Norwegian Nobel Committee has decided that the Nobel Peace Prize for 2015 is to be awarded to The Tunisian National Dialogue Quartet for its decisive contribution to the building of a pluralistic democracy in Tunisia in the wake of the Jasmine Revolution of 2011.”

The Nobel committee said it hopes Tunisia will be an example for other countries.

“It established an alternative peaceful political process at a time when the country was on the brink of civil war.”

The “Arab Spring,” in which anti-government uprisings began in countries throughout the Middle East, began in Tunisia in 2010 and 2011. Tunisians protested, forcing longtime President Zine el Abidine Ben Ali to flee. Many Tunisians wanted his many years of strong rule and corruption to end.

Some observers say the Arab Spring has been successful only in Tunisia. Egypt and Libya were affected by serious political unrest, and a civil war began in Syria that continues today. But Tunisia held peaceful elections. Voters chose a non-religious political party to lead the country.

But some experts say they are not sure if the changes will be permanent. Corruption still affects Tunisia. About a third of young people are jobless. And extremists continue to convince thousands of young Tunisians to join their groups, including the Islamic State.

This year, the United States promised to give hundreds of millions of dollars more aid to help Tunisia strengthen its democracy. In May, Tunisia’s president visited Washington. During the visit, President Barack Obama named Tunisia a major non-NATO ally of the United States. That means the country can get more military aid.

More than 270 people and groups were nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize this year -- the most ever. Among the nominees were Pope Francis and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

I’m Christopher Jones-Cruise.

VOA Correspondent Luis Ramirez reported this story from London. Christopher Jones-Cruise adapted it for Learning English. Kathleen Struck was the editor.


Words in This Story

uprising – n. a usually violent effort by many people to change the government or leader of a country

assassinate – v. to kill (someone, such as a famous or important person) usually for political reasons

pluralism – n. a situation in which people of different social classes, religions and races are together in a society but continue to have their different traditions and interests

in the wake of – expression after something; as a result of an event

on the brink of – expression about to happen soon; about to experience something negative

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