A group of 12 EU journalists took part in a seminar organised on 21-23 March in Tunisia. The group spent four days in the capital Tunis, where they met with government officials, NGO representatives and local journalists.
Thanks to the political and social changes the country has been going through since the revolution of 2011, the visit ran very smoothly; all visits were received without the restrictions and the self–censorship common during former President Ben Ali’s rule. For example the journalists were allowed to meet the President’s first adviser at the Presidential palace, whose access was once strictly limited.
The meeting at the Parliament with the President of the Constituent Assembly Mustapha Ben Jaafar reached the front page of the Tunisian leading newspaper La Presse. The article announced the possibility that the first legislative and presidential elections would take place in one year.
Since its independence from France in 1956 until the revolution in 2011, Tunisia was ruled by a single-party dictatorship. At the end of 2011, the country held an election for a constituent assembly, which represented the first free election since the country’s independence in 1956. The European journalists had asked Ben Jaafar if the members of parliament had already set a date for the elections, an issue of vital importance for a newly born democracy such as Tunisia.