British govt caught trying to manipulate public opinion in Tunisia
London, July 7, 2018 (AltAfrica)-The British government has been caught in an embarrassing position after it emerged that it’s been trying to force Tunisian public to buy into an unfavourable IMF policy through manipulation of public opinion
According to the London daily “The Guardian” , the British government has asked the famous advertising agency ” Saatchi & Saatchi “, known for its provocative projects, to carry out a media campaign in favor of the Tunisian government.
The aim would be to seduce Tunisian voters by pushing them to digest reforms, dictated by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), namely a policy of rigor, based on firm austerity measures. These controversial reforms have, indeed, “triggered a wave of protests in the country since the Arab Spring,” said The Guardian in an article published Monday.
According to the same source, “the advertising agency – known for its hard-hitting political publicity for the conservative party – was engaged to carry out a targeted campaign”, targeting in the first place young Tunisians aged between 18 and 35, and in order to “increase the awareness of the Tunisian public of the role of the government in the planning and implementation of economic reforms, undertaken as part of a plan supported by the IMF and aimed at reducing its budget deficit and boosting growth”.
The report states that the choice to target Tunisian youth is not trivial. Indeed, focusing more on this category, as being a first phase of the Saatchi plan, is purely strategic. The country’s young people have been at the forefront of protests that have intensified since the beginning of the year, particularly with the rise in taxes that have pushed prices up and sparked a wave of grumblings against the introduction of these reforms, notes the British daily.
Moreover, to drive the point, the London daily referred to the comments of a Labor MP on the international development committee of Parliament, Lloyd Russell-Moyle, who announced that he “sees no better example of the cynicism of this government than to fund a public relations campaign to support the Tunisian state “.
“The government will not tell the public or the parliament how this fund, which is worth more than £ 1 billion, is spent,” he added, adding that it would be more judicious to temporarily block the fund. to ease tensions.
For his part Asad Rehman, executive director of the charity War on Want, told the Guardian that projects of this kind undertaken in Tunisia “seem to concern governments more with their public relations than the causes of the protests, which are rooted in deep economic problems “.
Faced with these revelations unveiling British interference in the internal affairs of Tunisia, the British authorities responded to the accusations and gave clarifications on these suspicious financing.
Indeed, according to the spokesman of the British government, “in Tunisia, the CSSF programs strengthen democratic governance, security and economic reform. This project helps the Tunisian civil service to communicate in a transparent way with citizens, the first results showing an 18% increase in the number of citizens who want to know more about economic issues and reforms “he explains to the British media .
In addition, the Foreign Office revealed that the firm M & C Saatchi was appointed “to provide services only to his office and does not work directly with the Tunisian government on this project. He pointed out that the report of the Independent Commission for Aid Impact (ICAI ), although partially criticized, highlights a number of successes in the fund’s programs, “reports The Guardian.
The information fell like a thunderbolt causing a lot of questions. The question about the veracity of information remains unresolved, leaving room for multiple interpretations.
Some have also estimated that in case of confirmation of the revelations reported by The Guardian, Tunisia would be accused of waging a conspiracy based on a foreign alliance and funds dubious to manipulate public opinion.
In response to these serious accusations, the spokesman of the government, Iyed Dahmani, intervened to give explanations on this subject. He formally denied the revelations of the British daily and stressed that no agreement was made with an advertising agency to counter the social protests that took place at the beginning of the year, as claimed by The Guardian.
“Cooperation with the United Kingdom is part of the cooperation agreements and memoranda of understanding between the Tunisian government and the British government,” Dahmani said in a statement issued by the government
“These agreements affect many areas but they have no connection with social protests in the country,” he said.