Candidates for Egyptian Press Union’s Top Post Flail Poison Pens

Published June 13th, 2001 - 02:00 GMT

Mohammed Baali - Cairo 


In moves more akin to pre-game crowd-rousing at football matches than electoral politics, candidates for the Egyptian Press Association’s top post have begun issuing biting statements even before declaring their candidacies on June 16.  

Candidates are expected to include reigning association head Ibrahim Nafe’; Magdi Hussein, secretary general of the banned Labor Party; Mohammed Abu Liwayeh, an axed writer for the Labor Party’s Al Shaab newspaper; and Mohammed Abdallah, a dismissed Al Ahram journalist. 

Hussein has released sharp statements regarding Nafe’, the association and the Egyptian government. He has also started to visit newspapers to place ads for his campaign. 

For his part, Nafe’ has apparently been boring holes in Hussein’s camp from the inside. Statements signed by the self-proclaimed Al Shaab Independent Journalists group have been circulated at the association blasting Hussein and accusing him of being a bully. The group’s members are demanding that the association protect them and bring Hussein to justice. Press reports link the attacks to the Nafe’ camp.  

Following these statements, a document alleged to have been signed by Khaled Yousef, consulting editor at Al Shaab and a Hussein ally, was distributed warning Abu Liwayeh to settle his dispute with the newspaper. Yousef immediately denied issuing such a document and demanded that the association question those he called the “forgers” of the text. 

For his part, Mohammed Abdallah has issued a statement sniping at Nafe’ and explaining his conflict with Al Ahram, which he says involves money-related charges. He has been using the motto “Death of the Press Association” since his first statement, and has published a warning he sent to Nafe’ accusing him of stealing his work. 

Abu Liwayeh, who was imprisoned after being convicted of defaming Nafe’, has followed up with his campaign by issuing a statement on his prison experiences, and reiterating corruption charges aimed at Nafe’ and the association’s board. The journalist claims he has documents proving their corruption, and has threatened to make them public. 

Despite this explosive start, the elections may not even take place as scheduled, since a number of journalists have filed a suit demanding that the elections be delayed until they are registered on the association lists. By law, the election date is normally set by a judiciary committee, and it is not known whether this committee will endorse the delay or not. 

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