The Tunisian government has decided to review Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali’s nominations of public media institutions, stated the Spokesperson of the Government Samir Dilou, in an interview on Radio Mosaique FM. Jebali made the announcement of the nominations last Saturday afternoon.
Dilou refused to use the expression “repealed the decisions,” and opted instead for, “the government reacted to the protests” of the Union of Tunisian Journalists and other parts of Tunisian civil society who opposed the appointments. Dilou also asserted that, “Despite the fact that I am the official spokesperson, I did not know about the appointments as I was busy accompanying Ismail Haniya [Gazan prime minister] on his tour.”
Fathi Jerbi, cofounder of the political party Congress for the Republic (CPR), expressed his party’s discontent with the nominations. “I joined the manifestation in el-Kasbah yesterday on the behalf of CPR to protest against the appointments,” added the CPR figure. He also pointed out that the government should have followed a participatory approach when making such a vital decision, and that the prime minister dared make such decision because Tunisia is currently going through an institutional void. “Tunisians must be vigilant until a constitution that lays out the structure of regulatory institutions and explicitly grants freedoms is drafted.” Jeribi suggested that the Constituent Assembly should issue an official document reprimanding the person who decided the random media appointments.
Mohamed Bennour, spokesperson of the Ettakatol political party, assessed the situation as a healthy one, especially for a country undergoing a democratic transition such as Tunisia. Bennour highlighted the importance of consulting all stakeholders before making major decisions. “The government should check with the National Committee of Reform of Communication and Information (INRIC), the Union of Tunisian Journalists (SNJT), the Association of Tunisian Journalists, and other prominent figures in Tunisian media,” stated Bennour. He also expressed appreciation for the fact that the government agreed to review its decision. “A non-democratic government would have never repealed its choices,” he added.
In the wake of the official statements released by CPR and Ettakatol, which are members of the Troika (the tri-partisan ruling coalition consisting of CPR, Ettakatol and Ennahdha), expressing their discontent with the government’s decision, some Tunisian newspapers reported that this is the first step towards a breakup within the coalition. Mohamed Bennour described these allegations as exaggerated. Fathi Jerbi also denied them, but also commented, “Political affinity was not what brought us together with Ennahda. Rather, it was vote calculations.”
Abderazek Kilani, the dean of the Tunisian Lawyers Union, was assigned yesterday, January 9th, to meet with Nejiba Hamrouni, president of the SNJT and other figures of Tunisian media landscape to negotiate alternatives to the prime minister’s appointments. The government is now consulting with different stakeholders for a more consensual solution.