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New Head of Tunisian State News Agency Quits after Protests

New Head of Tunisian State News Agency Quits after Protests

Monday, 19 April, 2021 - 17:15
Journalists in Tunisia's state news agency carry flags as they protest against the appointment of a new CEO in Tunis, Tunisia April 13, 2021. (Reuters)

The new head of Tunisia’s state news agency resigned on Monday after its journalists demonstrated against his appointment in protest at what they called an attempt to undermine editorial independence.


After Kamel Ben Younes’ resignation, the journalists’ syndicate said it would cancel its first-ever strike planned for April 22 and end a boycott of news about the government.


Dozens of protesting journalists had gathered in front of Tunis Afrique Presse’s (TAP) headquarters on April 13 to try to stop Ben Younes from entering, but police later forced a way in and beat journalists.


“I resigned to avoid being involved in political tensions or the classic management of a state media organization that needs a comprehensive reform plan that include administrators and journalists”, Ben Younes said in a letter sent to Reuters.


Protesting journalists say Ben Younes is too close to the moderate Islamist Ennahda, the biggest party in parliament. They accuse him of backing moves to control the press before the 2011 revolution.


He has denied both charges, saying he is a political independent, and points to his past work as a journalist with several outlets, including the BBC.


Reacting to the syndicate’s cancellation of its strike plans, Mofdi Mssedi, the adviser to Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi, said: “The page has turned. Now it is time to launch a national dialogue to reform the public media.”


Since the police storming of TAP headquarters last week, TAP has decided to boycott news about the government.


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