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Tunisia groups: Essebsi's remarks are 'retreat from democracy'

Four independent Tunisian bodies have rejected remarks by President Béji Caid Essebsi in which he said they "operate without censorship".

The High Independent Authority for Audiovisual Communication, the Higher Committee for Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, the National Anti-Corruption Commission and the National Committee for the Prevention of Torture released a joint statement in which they described Essebsi's remarks as "a dangerous indicator that threatens democracy in Tunisia".

The statement stressed that the organisations work in accordance with the laws in place and called on the Parliament, political parties, civil society and trade unions to "be vigilant and stand together against these dangerous trends".

In an exclusive interview with the state-owned Al-Sahafa newspaper last week, Essebsi said Tunisian independent bodies operate "without any censorship" and "under the name of independent absolute powers".

The president said that sovereign bodies and institutions such as the Parliament have turned into mere organs to recommend decisions for these bodies.

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