TUNIS, Tunisia (AP) — Tunisia’s newly elected president has vowed to fight hard for women’s rights during his first address to the nation after being sworn in at the country’s parliament.
In his speech Wednesday at the Assembly of People’s Representatives, Kais Saied said his administration would fight corruption and shore up the freedoms gained over the past few years, since the Arab Spring began in Tunisia.
“We will support women to gain more rights, especially economic and social rights,” he said. “The dignity of a nation comes from the dignity of its citizens, men and women equally.”
With the Tunisian economy struggling, the 61-year-old said “there will be no tolerance in wasting any cent of the money of our people” and promised to respond to the “youth’s aspirations for employment and dignity.”
He pledged to tackle the roots of extremism, saying “we must stand united against terrorism.” The country was hit in 2015 by a series of deadly attacks which hit the tourism sector hard.
Saied, who presented himself as an independent outsider while winning the presidential election earlier this month, also pointed at the governing elite’s failure since the 2011 revolution that unleashed the Arab Spring pro-democracy uprisings.
“The Tunisians need a trust relation to be established between those who are governing and those who are being governed, who have long suffered injustice and iniquity,” he said.
He reaffirmed he would strongly advocate for “the Palestinian cause.”
Saied then headed toward the presidential palace of Carthage, north of the capital Tunis, to formally start his five-year term.
He succeeds the late Beji Caid Essebsi, who died in office in July.