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Afghan TV shows sleeping lawmakers

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Kabul (Reuters): Dozens of members of the Afghan parliament today walked out of a session to protest against a television station that has been airing what the politicians regard as unflattering footage of them. Private Tolo television station has screened pictures of MPs yawning, napping and picking their noses during debates, infuriating some members of the assembly. ''I am leaving the session unless Tolo is sent out of parliament,'' woman member Safia Sediqi told the assembly. A short while later she and dozens of colleagues walked out.

The parliament, elected in landmark polls last year, is a mixed bag of former anti-Soviet guerrillas, technocrats, women activists, as well as some former communists and former Taliban members. Tolo is among a handful of private television channels that have sprung up along with scores of radio stations and publications since the overthrow of the Taliban government in 2001. The popular network, which has in the past been criticised for what conservatives see as its racy programming, defended its coverage of parliament. ''These are public figures at a public place and we have to show what they do,'' the station's director, Saad Mohseni, told Reuters. ''The media has the right to show what they do.''

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