Néji Bghouri and Unity Among Journalists to Lead the SNJT
«The independence of the union is guaranteed by a free and professional media» was the slogan of this past weekend’s third congress meeting for the National Union of Tunisian Journalists (SNJT) in Tunis. The nine members of the newly elected executive board incude all seven individuals representing Néji Bghouri’s Unity Among Journalists list and two members of the Independent and Professional List for the Rehabilitation of Journalists led by Saida Hammami.
A Celebratory Atmosphere…
Commenting on the past three years since the revolution, current SNJT president Néjiba Hamrouni explained that the union, «in conjunction with the struggle for the country’s democratic transition, had carried on the battle for the freedom of expression, the press, and creativity» and that union leaders were committed to defending the rights of journalists against legal and economic threats, namely the institutional failure to uphold constitutionally-designated protections and the economic ambitions of media networks that undermine journalists’ work. Upon his group’s victory, the newly elected SNJT president (who was also the union’s first president in 2008), Néji Bghouri, announced that «The union’s new executive board will work for the solidarity of journalists in pursuit of their shared interests and in defense of their advancement and development.»
…Tinged With Tension
According to Nawaat, an air of tension weighed heavily upon the first day of the conference as a result of what some referred to as ‘poor organization’ and specifically the union’s failure to disperse membership cards to all of its members. 480 out of 873 union members voted in the election, presumably due in part to the absence of those who were prevented from attending the event because they did not have the obligatory member cards.
Neither Nawaat nor other online sources dwell on what would appear to be a significant administrative error, however, and one response to the Nawaat article confirms what is reported to have been overall exciting and successful event for journalists:
The congress itself was a good exercise in the struggle for democracy. The past is not a port, but a lighthouse to help guide us…Truth expects a great deal from you, and the people do, too. Long live the free press.