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Tunisia: 3 parties warn against Saied's interference in the State media

February 23, 2022 at 7:22 pm

A man holds a copy of Tunisian newspaper al-Chorouk in the centre of the capital Tunis on November 8, 2020. [FETHI BELAID/AFP via Getty Images]

Three Tunisian parties warned, on Tuesday, of the “blatant interference” of President Kais Saied in the work of the governmental radio and television institutions, expressing their rejection of this.

This came in a joint statement issued by the Democratic Current (22 out of 217 seats in Parliament whose jurisdiction has been suspended), the Ettakatol and Al-Joumhouri Party (they have no parliament members), a copy of which was delivered to Anadolu Agency.

The parties said: “On 22 February 2022, I sent a letter to the Independent High Authority for Audio-visual Communication (HAICA), expressing its rejection of all attempts to seize the media.”

The statement added: “We warn against the blatant interference of Saied in the running of the Tunisian radio and television institutions, in order to employ them in his authoritarian coup project.”

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The parties demanded the Authority to “take clear and firm stances to stand up to the transgressions taking place and to carry out the tasks entrusted to it as an amendment and oversight body in order to ensure the diversity and openness of the media scene.”

The statement also called on the HAICA to “send a direct warning to the Tunisian TV administration to hold it responsible for preserving the independence of the editorial line of the public institution, and not to engage in propaganda for controversial projects in the political arena.”

The parties drew attention to what they considered “Saied’s blatant interference in the management of the Tunisian Radio Corporation, not only through his announcement on 14 February ending the duties of the person in charge of running this public institution, but also cancelling all decisions taken by this responsible Director.”

Last Monday, the Presidency said in a brief statement: “The President of the Republic decided to end the assignment of Shukri Al-Sheneti from his duties as a temporary administrator of the Tunisian Broadcasting Corporation, and to cancel all naming and appointment decisions that were taken by him.”

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The Presidency statement did not specify the reasons for this exemption.

Tunisia has been suffering, since 25 May 2021, from a severe political crisis that worsened the economic situation. In fact, President Kais Saied imposed exceptional measures, including dismissing the government, appointing a new one, freezing the work of Parliament, and issuing legislation by presidential decrees.

Most of the political forces in Tunisia reject Saied’s exceptional measures, and consider them a “coup against the constitution”, while other forces support them, seeing them as a “correction of the course of the 2011 revolution”, in light of political, economic and health crises.