Tunisia: Ben Younes and Ftouhi Resign From TAP and Shems FM Respectively (Mseddi)

Tunis/Tunisia — The case of the appointment of Kamel Ben Younes to head TAP news agency is closed after he resigned as Administrator representing the State in the Executive Board of the agency, information and communication officer at the Prime Ministry Mofdi Mseddi told TAP Monday.

Regarding the confiscated radio Shems FM, Mseddi said director general Hanen Ftouhi has also submitted her resignation to the Minister of Finance.

A meeting was held on Monday at the headquarters of the Ministry of Finance in the presence of the new investor interested in acquiring the shares held by the state. It was agreed to accelerate the sale process by preserving the social rights of journalists, technicians and agents of Shems FM, in accordance with the specifications developed for this purpose.

The National Commission for the management of assets and funds subject to confiscation or recovery by the State will meet next week to make a final decision on the sale.

"The Prime Minister has ordered to quickly close the file of Shems FM and accelerate the exceptional aid granted to private media to cope with the repercussions of the coronavirus pandemic," Mseddi further said.

Mechichi also ordered the launch of a national dialogue involving the Prime Ministry, the Parliament and various professional structures "to reform the media sector, establish public policies for media governance and set the major national objectives," he added.

A large protest rally was held in front of TAP headquarters on April 15, 2021, at the TAP at the call of the National Union of Tunisian Journalists (SNJT) to denounce parachuted appointments at the head of the agency and Shems FM radio and police storing of the agency's premises to forcibly install the new CEO.

Journalists, photographers, administrative staff, agents and retirees of TAP as well as journalists from various public and private media, representatives of national organisations and associations, including the General Union of Tunisian Labour (UGTT) and the Tunisian League of Human Rights (LTDH) took part in the rally, besides many politicians, academics and national figures.

Participants in the rally chanted slogans calling for respect for freedom of the press and condemning the storming by the police of the agency's premises and the assault on journalists and staff.

They also denounced the appointment of Hanen Ftouhi as head of Shems FM and held up signs rejecting partisan and parachuted appointments and calling to respect the neutrality of the media and keep them away from political division.

TAP staff have been staging an open sit-in since April 6, 2021, backed by the SNJT and the General Media Union (UGTT), to protest the "clearly political and partisan" appointment of Kamel Ben Younes.

They also decided to boycott the activities of the government and parties backing it until April 22, the date of the general strike announced after Mechichi said he "would not back down on this appointment".

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