Tunisia Dar Essabah journalists suspend hunger strike
TUNIS - Six journalists with Tunisia's Dar Essabah press group have halted a hunger strike over the appointment of their controversial new director, after a compromise deal was reached, one of their colleagues said Wednesday.
"After a meeting with Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali and the secretary general of the Tunisian General Workers Union (UGTT), they decided on a compromise to satisfy our demands," Sofian Ben Rejeb, one of the protest's organisers, said.
"We have decided to suspend the strike," which began on October 12, he added.
State-owned Dar Essabah has been at the heart of a controversy gripping Tunisia for months, with journalists accusing the Islamist-led government of manipulating editorial content by appointing loyal directors, in this case Lotfi Touati.
The journalists at the press group, which owns Arabic-language daily Essabah and French-language newspaper Le Temps, consider Touati too close to the ruling Islamist party Ennahda and accuse him of having assaulted journalists.
Ben Rejeb said he was "confident" that an agreement would be signed imminently that would result in the resignation of Touati, who was appointed in August without Dar Essabah staff being consulted.
It was the second time the journalists had decided to go without food, suspending their first strike at the beginning of October, before resuming it when talks with the government broke down.
The Tunisian premier pledged earlier this month to guarantee press freedom and resolve the heightened tensions between his government and the media, during a meeting with the International Federation of Journalists in Brussels.