The INRIC (National Authority for the Reform of Information and Communication) held a press conference on April 30th, at the Palais des Congres convention center in Tunis. Mr. Kamel Abidi, president of the authority, along with other members, presented the recommendations reached in a general report drafted on the current state of media – 368 pages divided into 10 chapters.
After going through a summary of the report’s recommendations, the questions of those present focused on the government’s attempts to retain a stronghold on information and media. Néji Bghouri, a member of the INRIC, denounced the attacks against journalists. He pointed the finger at Lotfi Zitoun, advisor to Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali, describing him as the new “pseudo-minister of communication” – alluding to the notorious Abdel Waheb Abdallah, and a return to Ben Ali’s single-party rule, which stripped the media of their core functions and used them as a propaganda tool.
As for Renda Alibi, a journalist and former secretary general of the SNJT (National Tunisian Journalists Union), considered the national media consultation prepared by the first ministry an “RCD-Nahda” consultation. She recalled the scandalous presence of Mohamed Hamdane, who used to be Abdel Waheb Abdallah’s snitch, on the Advisor’s Cabinet a mere year ago.
Kamel Abidi was also taken aback by the fact that such a government-led initiative would be prepared by a team that still has many Ben Ali era functionaries in its ranks – many of them who proudly worked in the field of censorship.
Moreover, the audience should know that the report was sent to all 3 presidents yesterday – namely, Mustafa Ben Jaafar (Constituent Assembly), Moncef Marzouki (President of the Republic), and Hamadi Jebali (Prime Minister).
Abidi said that he met with PM Jebali, and that he affirmed that media reform should only concern journalism professionals and that the government should not exercise any supervision over the media.
Below are some excerpts from the conference.