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Tunisia journalists end hunger strike

Tunisian journalists end their hunger strike over the Islamist government interference in their Dar Essabah press group as they will start negotiation tomorrow with state authorities

AFP , Monday 8 Oct 2012
Journalists protest against a government appointed director for a media group, in front of the prime minister's office in Tunis September 28, 2012. (Photo: Reuters)
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Eight Tunisian journalists have ended a hunger strike over government interference in their Dar Essabah press group, ahead of talks with the authorities, one of their colleagues said on Monday.

"The negotiations will start tomorrow afternoon. They stopped the hunger strike to see what happens in the talks," Essia Atrous, an employee of Arabic-language daily Essabah, told AFP.

The hunger strike, begun on October 1, was the latest protest against the appointment in August of Lotfi Touati, the controversial new director of Dar Essabah, by Tunisia's ruling Islamist party Ennahda. 

The talks on Tuesday will bring together representatives of the editorial staff at Dar Essabah, which owns Essabah and French-language newspaper Le Temps, Social Affairs Minister Khalil Zaouia and trade union leaders.  Journalists and editors have accused the Islamist-led government of seeking to control the editorial content of several public media groups, including by appointing new directors without consulting their staff.

Editorial staff at Dar Essabah, which the state took control of after last year's revolution, demand the removal of Lotfi, who they consider too close to the Islamists and who is accused of having assaulted journalists. Tunisia's national journalists' union supports their demands and has called for a general strike on October 17.

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