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Wednesday evening TV debate with Interim Prime Minister

Published the:  30/03/2011

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March 28, 2010 - TAP - On Wednesday evening at 08:30pm, Tunisian viewers will have the opportunity to watch a TV show which they are not accustomed to: a TV debate with Interim Prime Minister Béji Caid Essebsi broadcast live simultaneously, from Kasbah Government Palace, by the "Nationale TV", "Hannibal TV" and "Nessma TV".
A little used, during the Ben Ali era, to see their leaders express themselves live on TV, so many Tunisians came to appreciate Mr. Caid Essebsi's early media statements, characterised as they were by a style described by observers as one of "spontaneity and humour".
Some even drew attention to the fact that there is some similarity with the style of President Habib Bourguiba, with whom Mr. Caid Essebsi had served for several times as minister.
Some have denounced, these last days, the Interim Government's communication deficit, notably during the last "unexplainable" reshuffle at the head of the Interior Ministry and slowing down of the prosecution of those people responsible for corruption and crimes under Ben Ali.
The new draft press law has been also severely criticized.
"It is true that, despite the improvement recorded in this area and a political discourse which respects the intelligence of Tunisians, a lot of information and data remain inaccessible to journalists," said Mr. Salah Attia, journalist, who voiced fear that the news briefings of government members, notably those of the spokesman of the cabinet will turn "little by little" into a single source of information for journalists.
The debate also comes on the eve of the announcement of the electoral code to rule the Constituent Assembly's election.
Moez Sinaoui, in charge of the Prime Minister's communication, denied any "political timing." The debate, he said, is the Prime Minister's initiative which is part of a communication strategy that schedules "one solemn intervention" per month, in addition to others which are punctual "and dictated by current events."
It was the Prime Minister who insisted that the debate be broadcast live, Mr. Sinaoui specified, adding that choice of the journalists was left to the TV channels themselves to decide about, namely Abdelmalek Ben Rabah from "Nationale TV", Faouzi Jerad from "Hannibal TV" and Sofiène Ben Hmida from "Nessma TV".
According to Mr. Sinaoui, questions for the debate have not been prepared in advance; only the themes have been agreed on in consultation with the journalists.
For his part, Mr. Attia pointed out that the Prime Minister would answer, Wednesday evening, Tunisian people's main questions: Tunisians want, before anything else, to be informed on the security situation which prevails in the country. He would also speak about the future political events and the situation in Libya.