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Election time at the Press Syndicate
Published in Al-Ahram Weekly on 09 - 02 - 2017

Press Syndicate elections are set to take place on 3 March this year, with more than 40 journalists competing for six seats on the syndicate's council and the chairman's position.
The syndicate will open its doors for candidates to submit their applications starting on 11 February. The first round of the elections will take place on 3 March, according to the schedule released by the syndicate's outgoing council.
Candidates for the board seats have already announced their platforms, which include promises such as providing affordable housing and leisure activities and legal assistance for journalists. The candidates span the ideological spectrum and include liberals and leftists.
The outgoing six members of the syndicate council are Khaled Al-Balshi, Karem Mahmoud, Gamal Abdel-Rehim, Alaa Thabet, Osama Dawoud and Hanan Fikri. Only Al-Balshi has announced that he will run again, but the other outgoing members can do so before the registration deadline.
The race for the syndicate chairman's post is another story, however. Four journalists are in the running, including former chairman Diaa Rashwan, Al-Ahram Managing Editor Abdel-Mohsen Salama, Refaat Rashad and Sayed Al-Eskandrani from Al-Gomhouriya newspaper.
Outgoing chairman Yehia Qallash is not expected to run again, but sources close to him told Al-Ahram Weekly he would announce his decision on Saturday.
The competition may be most intense between Rashwan and Salama, as both have strong records in syndicate politics. Rashwan held the position between 2013 and 2015 but lost to Qallash in 2015. Since 2011, he has been the head of the Al-Ahram Centre for Political and Strategic Studies, which he joined in 1981.
“It is my duty to save the profession and the syndicate from serious problems that have resulted from stances that lacked wisdom and were made in the name of principle but did not respect journalists or honour their syndicate,” Rashwan said.
He added that his electoral slogan would be to “restore the syndicate's status and the respect for journalists in the eyes of public opinion.”
Salama said that he would run for the sake of the journalism profession in Egypt. His candidacy is supported by many senior journalists, including former syndicate chairman Makram Mohamed Ahmed who has called on journalists to elect Salama as chairman.
“It is time to unite the journalists in Egypt once again after several years of division,” Ahmed said.
Rashwan's record when chairman may not serve him well, as he had few achievements to his name though he did manage to increase journalists' pensions provided by the government.
Outgoing council member Hatem Zakaria said that the election would see unprecedented competition. He added that the Administrative Court would supervise the electoral process.
The outgoing council served one of the hardest terms in the syndicate's 75-year history, following a crisis with the government that erupted after police arrested two journalists at the syndicate's headquarters.
Current syndicate head Qallash and two board members were given two-year suspended prison sentences late last year on charges of “harbouring fugitives inside the syndicate's headquarters”.
The court's sentences came after two journalists, wanted for “spreading false news” regarding Egypt's Red Sea Island deal with Saudi Arabia, were arrested in May inside the syndicate's Cairo headquarters.
Qallash said that he respected all the candidates and that their differences would enrich the electoral process and work for the benefit of all journalists.
“The most important thing is that the chairman should focus on advancing the journalism profession in Egypt by protecting journalists and helping them build their capacity to cope with new challenges,” Qallash said.

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