On April 6th Hichem Mechichi, the head of the Tunisian government, nominated Kamel Ben Younes as the new director of the TAP news agency, Tunis Afrique Presse. A supporter of the former president Ben Ali, ousted from power in 2011, and accused of being close to the main Islamist parliamentary party Ennahdha, Ben Younes’ appointment was seen as an attack on press freedom by the press agency staff: “created in 1961 under the regime of the former dictator, the TAP moved away from its public service mission and was turned it into a tool for propaganda.”
On April 13th, escorted by a court bailiff and police officers, the newly appointed Ben Younes tried to enter his office but was prevented by journalists shouting: “News is public information, not sectarian or governmental”, reports Business News. An altercation in the entrance hall between law enforcement and journalists was filmed and soon shared on the social networks. Vilified by the cries and insults, Kamel Ben Younes finally left the TAP building. On April 19th he tendered his resignation and former CEO Mouna Mtibaa took over until a new candidate is found. The unions continue to urge members to fight “government, political and partisan interference and influence”. Ben Younes was the 7th person nominated for the top job at TAP since the Jasmine Revolution. Same story at Radio Shems FM. Staffers had maintained a sit-in there since March 15th as a protest against the nomination of Madame Hanen Ftouhi as DG. Her nomination was contested by the unions of Radio Shems and the Syndicat national des journalistes tunisiens (SNJT).
“Radio Shems FM is one of the institutions confiscated by the Tunisian government since the Revolution.” On April 21stthe unions announced the end of the sit-in since Mme. Ftouhi had decided not to accept her nomination.
For more information on the audiovisual news in Tunisia, click here.