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Tunisian National Dialogue Quartet Wins 2015 Nobel Peace Prize

  • RFE/RL

The Tunisian National Dialogue Quartet has been awarded the 2015 Nobel Peace Prize for its "decisive contribution to the building of a pluralistic democracy" in the wake of the North African country's 2011 Jasmine Revolution.

The Nobel Peace Prize jury made the announcement on October 9 in the Norwegian capital, Oslo.

The Tunisian National Dialogue Quartet brings together a labor federation, a human rights group, a trade group, and a lawyers group.

It was formed in 2013 to help support the democratization process in Tunisia when it was in danger of collapsing, the Nobel jury said.

"It established an alternative, peaceful political process at a time when the country was on the brink of civil war," said Kaci Kullman Five, head of the Tunisian General Labor Union (UGTT), which is part of the Quartet.

Tunisian protesters sparked uprising across the Arab world in 2011 that overthrew dictators and upset the status quo. Tunisia is the only country in the region to build a democracy.

Among the first to congratulate the winners was the United Nations.

A UN spokesman in Geneva said, “We need civilian society to help us move peace processes forward.”

Sweden's Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom said the prize was well-deserved.

She called Tunisia "one of few examples of success" following the Arab Spring uprisings and says she hopes the prize will help inspire other countries that are struggling to reform.

Poland's former president and Nobel laureate Lech Walesa said the award "was an expression of praise for its activity and encouragement to further "wise activity."

Walesa -- who won the prize in 1983 -- said he contributed to the group's activity when he visited Tunisia in 2011 and shared his experience from Poland's bloodless political reforms.

Walesa led the Solidarity freedom movement in the 1980s that led to the ouster of communism.

The prize, which is worth 8 million Swedish crowns ($972,000), will be presented in Oslo on December 10.

The decision came as a bit of a surprise to Nobel Peace Prize prognosticators.

Many were picking German Chancellor Angela Merkel to become the 17th woman to win the prize for pledging to keep her country's borders open to hundreds of thousands of refugees fleeing from Syria and other countries.

Others mentioned as possible winners were Pope Francis as well as U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and his Iranian counterpart, Javad Zarif, for their July deal on Iran's nuclear program.

All told, there were 273 candidates for the award, according to the Norwegian Nobel Committee, including 68 organizations and 205 individuals.

The late Swedish industrialist Alfred Nobel -- who invented dynamite -- dedicated most of his fortune to create the Nobel Prizes in five areas, including peace.

The prizes have been awarded since 1901.

With reporting by AP, Reuters, and AFP