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  Middle East & Africa
5th Congress of Tunisian Ruling Party
Ben Ali Accepts to Run for 2009 Presidential Election
H.E. Zine El Abidine Ben Ali,
President of the Republic of Tunisia

H.E. Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, President of the Republic of Tunisia, announced in his speech, on July 30 , 2008, at the opening works of the "Congress of the Constitutional Democratic Rally ( the Ruling Party in Tunisia) placed under the motto the challenge, his decision to stand for the 2009 Presidential Elections.

This decision came to meet the call of RCD activists, the national organizations and the civil society, for President Ben Ali to run to election, answering thus the call and will of all Tunisians in order to continue his progress oeuvre for Tunisia.

This announcement has been followed by spontaneous outstanding show of popular jubilation in the streets of the capital Tunis.

In his speech, President Ben Ali has reiterated the pivotal role of Tunisian woman in achieving alongside with men the development oeuvre of the country.

In another hand, Ben Ali of Tunisia has confirmed again the constant tenets of Tunisia's Foreign policy and his vision of International relations ; commitments to International Legality and Determination to promote security and peace all over the world. He added "Our country will invariably remain an advocate of good action and peace, and endeavour to anchor dialogue among cultures and civilisations, rejecting violence, extremism and terrorism, and calling for the building of a more just, more developed and a more stable world."

Here is the full text of President Zine el Abidine Ben Ali's address, on Wednesday, at the opening works, at Le Kram Exhibition Centre, of the Constitutional Democratic Rally (RCD) Congress of "Challenge."

"In the name of God, Merciful and Compassionate

RCD activists,

By the grace of God, we open today the proceedings of the "Congress of Challenge, "a landmark event that is of particular importance in our country, given our Party's prestigious position, deep-rootedness and influence, and the meritorious tasks it assumes in serving our country and our people.

I wish to convey my warm greetings to all participants in this congress. I also would like to welcome our dear brother and distinguished guest His Excellency President Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian National Authority and chairman of the Palestinian Liberation organisation (PLO), and to convey, through him, my greetings to the brotherly Palestinian people to whom we express our deep consideration for their struggle to recover their legitimate rights. I take this occasion to reaffirm my determination to strengthen the strong ties of fraternity and deep-rooted relations of solidarity between the PLO and our prestigious party.

I also wish to welcome the guests of the Constitutional Democratic Rally (RCD), including the representatives of political parties and national organisations of brotherly and friendly parties and of regional and international organisations, as well as intellectuals and media personalities, thanking them all for accepting our invitation and attending our congress.

RCD activists,

We have insisted to make sure this congress, the fifth since the Change, constitutes another major landmark in our party's history that is rich in glories and high deeds over nine decades.

It is a landmark in which we recall, with reverence, our party's generations of reformers, freedom-fighters and activists, while paying homage to the martyrs who offered generous sacrifices for the sake of Tunisia's freedom and glory, and while reaffirming our faithfulness to their memory, and our deep consideration to the party's symbols and leaders, in the forefront of whom leader Habib Bourguiba.

The saving of the party, after the Change of November 7th, was part of the saving of the country, through action aimed at reforming it, developing its system of reference, modernising its working methods, diversifying its activities, promoting its vital position in our country's history, and fostering its crucial role in enhancing our people's progression toward the future.

It is indeed a great epic of accomplishment, hard work and sacrifice our party has experienced since the "Congress of Salvation" till the present.

We have chosen "Challenge" as a motto for this congress, reflecting the nature of the current stage, which requires stepping up action and effort, overcoming difficulties, and aspiring for the better. This congress ushers in a new stage of action to consolidate our country's gains and achievements and meet further stakes and challenges.

It is indeed an extremely critical period, given the current world conditions. We , therefore, exhort the RCD to deepen awareness of these conditions and of the stakes they pose, relying essentially on our own capacities and on the sense of challenge and sacrifice of our people.

Having given instructions, more than four months ago, for launching preparations for the congress, we have insisted on making sure all RCD structures, at home and abroad, are involved, on moving gradually from the local level to the regional level and then the national level, and on involving the largest number of cadres and activists. The RCD has thus served as a propitious space for dialogue and discussion, and an open forum for the exchange of views on all national and international issues and concerns.

RCD activists,

Having made large strides in the process of achieving Tunisia's growth and development, we are entitled today to promote our country, during the coming stage, to the ranks of developed nations. This requires that we mobilise all efforts, capacities and potentialities in order to accelerate the pace of investment and job creation, and further upgrade the various components of the industrial fabric, in line with our determination to ensure balance and equal opportunities among all Tunisians, and to distribute the fruits of development among all regions and social categories.

I exhort you to undertake an in-depth examination of the suggestions and recommendations included in the draft motions submitted to you concerning, in particular, the improvement of the performance of social action, the protection of categories with specific needs, the preservation of the integrity of the family, children and society, and the promotion of health services and of the health insurance system.

Employment, especially for university graduates, remains in the forefront of our national priorities. I , therefore, recommend granting further attention to this issue, and presenting the necessary solutions in order to accelerate the pace of project funding and job creation, opt for modern technologies and immaterial economic activities, and improve the export of services in promising sectors.

I would like to underline, on this occasion, the fact that despite the difficult world situation, our economy is constantly improving, for we are always keen on consolidating our country's capacity to face difficulties, and on alleviating, to the extent possible, the adverse effects of the world economic crises on our people, particularly the vulnerable categories, relying in this endeavour, on the opportunities and means available in our country, and on the resolve driving our people to overcome challenges and difficulties.

In this context, I exhort you to show constant vigilance, and to be fully aware of the changes taking place in the world, and of the initiatives and achievements accomplished in your country. I also recommend guarding against those malevolent opportunists whose only business is to try to exploit news and events, to exaggerate their extent, to falsify them, and to distort them in a manner that has nothing to do with reality, as was the case for the events that took place recently in the delegations of the mining basin, and I already explained their causes during my chairmanship of the special session of the regional council of the governorate of Gafsa.

The best response to those who feel piqued at Tunisia's success, stability, independent decision and cohesive people, is to pursue our successful development process in all sectors, and to accomplish every day a new achievement with which we enhance our people's invulnerability and well-being.

RCD activists,

The care we offer our youths emanates from our belief in their role in building Tunisia's present and future. We have proclaimed 2008 the year of "Dialogue with Youth." It is indeed a comprehensive, durable and ceaseless dialogue.

The "Dialogue with Youth" conducted this year was frank and rich. Our party's youth have massively and enthusiastically been involved in it, along with youth from other political parties, organisations and associations, and youth not belonging to any parties or organisations.

I take this opportunity to pay tribute to the young people who have earnestly contributed to this dialogue. I wish to express special thanks to the many young people who sent me letters full of affection and pride, leaving in my heart deep emotions and noble feelings.

I have given instructions to include youths' concerns, ambitions and aspirations within our Congress motions. Relying on youths' enthusiasm and on their role in renewing our party's discourse, method of action, activity and leadership, I have given instructions for promoting the composition of the Central Committee toward a larger representation of youth. We have included on the national list a young man and a young woman from each coordination committee and from RCD structures abroad.

The dialogue with youth will lead to the elaboration of a national youth pact which, I am sure, will reflect our youths' aspirations, confirm their commitment to our national values and references, and materialise the motto "Tunisia first."

The care we offer women is a fundamental component of our reformist vision, our conception of democratic construction and our action to anchor women's rights in the family and in society.

All the initiatives we have taken to promote women to the level of effective partnership lie at the core of this vision. Our decision to make sure women hold, in the future, at least 30% of seats in the RCD Central Committee, the Chamber of Deputies, the Chamber of Advisors and municipal councils, reflects our belief in the necessity of women's presence in all positions of responsibility and decision-making, and in all fields of participation and contribution, in complementarity with their family and social functions.

The RCD, which today takes pride in its women grassroots from all generations and all social categories, is called on to think of appropriate mechanisms and programmes to enhance the care offered to women quantitatively and qualitatively and to further foster their role within the party and in all institutions.

RCD activists

We are invariably keen on promoting political life, anchoring the foundations of democracy and pluralism, and offering large opportunities for the contribution of all national forces. In this regard, the RCD assumes a major responsibility, given its weight and its historical and political position.

We recommend deepening reflection and presenting suggestions, in light of the constant determination driving us to promote the process of democracy and pluralism at each stage, and to anchor and further enrich human rights, the latter being an indivisible whole, with no priority and preference given to one right at the expense of the others. We will pursue the action we have launched, since the Change, to safeguard and protect human rights and disseminate their culture, while anchoring the rule of law, respecting the principle of equality before justice, enriching the fields of co-operation and consensus among all parties, and rejecting all forms of excessiveness, extremism and fanaticism.

We will also pursue our partnership with civil society, and increase the opportunities of dialogue and consultation with its various components. For we believe that Tunisia belongs to all, and all should serve Tunisia.

Regarding what is said from time to time concerning alternation in power, I would like to recall that this issue is already settled by the Constitution. On our part, we believe in this fundamental principle of our republican system. We consider that the people's choice is the rule for alternation, and that the Cconstitution is the decisive arbiter for all.

RCD activists,

This congress of ours, the "Congress of Challenge," is an opportunity to explore the means required by the coming stage in order to mobilise all capacities and potentialities to win its stakes. No doubt, the congress motions will set the policies and programmes for the coming five years, which will enhance our progression in all fields, anchor cohesion within our party, and ensure continuity among its generations at all stages and in all conditions.

Our party's success in the battle for national liberation, in building the modern state, and in preserving its vivacity and prestige during the various historical stages our people have gone through, is essentially attributed to the fact that its activists have preserved their cohesion and unity, and that the party has succeeded in ensuring continuity and complementarity among all generations from all ages, regions and social categories. Distinction is drawn only in terms of activism, contribution and sacrifice. It is in this context that lies our recent initiative to enrich the composition of the Central Committee which will strengthen ties among the generations of activists, and offer for all the opportunity for action and contribution within our party's managerial structures.

To that end, we will submit to the Congress amendments to Articles 23 and 27 of the RCD internal regulations providing for the transformation of the "Consultative Council of Freedom-Fighters" into the "Council of Freedom-Fighters and Great Militants," thus opening it up to the generations of militants who significantly contributed to the building of the modern state, and who have pursued their action with perseverance, offering the best support to the Change and to our project of reform. The amendment also allows the members of this council to be ipso facto members of the Central Committee.

To confirm this new orientation in rallying all RCD capacities, at this level of our party's structures, and to ensure the continuity of their activities, we announce our decision to establish standing committees within the Central Committee, to be in charge of examining the themes and issues submitted to them by the RCD Chairman during the period between two sessions, and presenting their reports and recommendations to the Political Bureau. The aim is, in fact, to enhance the work of the Central Committee, and to foster its role in following up the implementation of the recommendations of the national congress and helping the Political Bureau to set orientations and positions during the period between two congresses.

On the other hand, to optimise the composition of the Political Bureau, we will submit to the Congress an amendment to Article 26 of the RCD Internal Regulations, lowering the number of RCD vice-presidents to one vice-president only.

I also exhort RCD structures and all the concerned bodies to accord further attention to Tunisians abroad, thus confirming the great care we offer them, and our reliance on them to serve as a strong support for the national development, and as an additional element for civilisational communication, for defending Tunisia's interests, and for contributing to highlighting its excellent performance and bright image in the countries of residence.

As the last stages of the Congress proceedings will witness the election of the members of the Central Committee, I recommend, once again, making sure these elections are held within a context of democratic behaviour, transparency and fair competition, while respecting the provisions of the RCD Internal Regulations.

RCD Activists,

We are indeed proud of the respect and consideration Tunisia enjoys on the world scene, thanks to its moderate positions, commitment to international legality, and determination to promote security and peace all over the world. This can only strengthen our commitment to these constant tenets upon which we have established our foreign policy and our vision of international relations. Our country will invariably remain an advocate of good action and peace, and endeavour to anchor dialogue among cultures and civilisations, rejecting violence, extremism and terrorism, and calling for the building of a more just, more developed and a more stable world.

RCD Activists,

Today, we step into the stage of "Challenge," an important stage in the progression of our Party and our country. We step into this stage with strong resolve and unwavering determination, prompted for further action and sacrifice, committed to our constants, convinced of our successes, and relying on all Tunisian men and women, at home and abroad.

Today, we renew our joint commitment to be devoted to serving Tunisia, consolidating its invulnerability, defending its banner, and elevating its status among the world's nations.

I feel extremely moved by, and proud of, the precious confidence placed in my person by our people, with all its organisations and associations, youth and adults, men and women, from all ages, regions and social categories, and by the decision of the RCD Central Committee, which was followed by the reactions of support from RCD federations and cells.

The people's commitment to our programmes and choices during the various stages we have gone through, since the Change of November 7th, can only strengthen my belief in the noble mission I am assuming in order to pursue, consolidate and enrich the progression with you, while being faithful to the sacred mission with which you have entrusted me, so that we can together make new strides for the sake of our country and our people.

With great pride, I tell you: I am always with you, faithful to my commitment. In response to your appeal, I proudly say: Yes, I will be your candidate for the presidential election of 2009."




 

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