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Following are UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres' remarks to the General Assembly remembrance ceremony for Beji Caid Essebsi, late President of Tunisia, in New York today:
It is a privilege to be with you today to remember and honour the legacy of His Excellency President Beji Caid Essebsi. I extend my sincere condolences to President Essebsi's family and friends, and to the people and Government of the Republic of Tunisia on the loss of the country's first democratically elected President.
I met President Essebsi many times, most recently in Tunis earlier this year. He was a great statesman and his passing is a significant loss for the entire region. The outpouring of grief in Tunisia and beyond is a testament to the critical role he played in shaping his country's history since independence, and particularly over recent years.
President Essebsi will be remembered as an Arab and African trailblazer who steered his country towards democracy and the path of full respect for the fundamental rights and liberties of all its citizens.
He showed great wisdom and moral leadership by choosing dialogue and consensus at critical junctures in Tunisia's democratic transition. He remained true to the ideals of democracy, freedom and human rights throughout Tunisia's peaceful revolution. Across the region, President Essebsi drew admiration for expanding women's rights and for his strong advocacy for equality.
While Tunisia mourns the passing of this pioneering leader, Tunisians should be proud of the rich legacy that President Essebsi leaves behind. I applaud the Tunisian Government and people for the many successes you have achieved under the leadership of President Essebsi. Tunisians have demonstrated the power of inclusive national dialogue.
President Essebsi was a genuine and reliable partner of the United Nations and our relationship grew deeper and stronger during his tenure. He was a key ally in the search for solutions to conflicts in the region, and a steadfast supporter of the United Nations efforts in Libya.
He enjoyed the confidence of his peers as an honest broker motivated only by a vision of peace and stability across the region. I send the Tunisian people my best wishes and hopes that they will succeed in preserving and furthering the progress they have achieved over the last eight years under President Essebsi.
Source: United Nations