Journalists Syndicate head says judiciary to decide on dispute

Journalists Syndicate head Mamdouh al-Wali threatened to resort to the judiciary to resolve the dispute between him and a number of board members after the syndicate board disciplined him for attending the vote on the final constitution draft.

Wali said some board members wanted to hijack the syndicate in favor of a certain political current, which he stressed that he would not allow in order to keep the syndicate non-partisan. He added that the next elections would further settle the dispute.

“The country needs national consensus during these difficult times…without bias toward one party, which would deepen societal divisions,” he said.

Wali accused fellow syndicate members of causing problems for the sake of media coverage, adding that the regulation saying that the syndicate head could be referred to investigation was “invented.”

“According to the provisions of the State Council, the only body responsible for bringing the syndicate head to account is the general assembly, not the syndicate’s board,” he said.

As syndicate elections are approaching, Wali said that maybe this would give journalists the change to decide the fate of the syndicate “after months of disagreements having nothing to do with the problems of the profession.”

“In light of these repeated altercations, I have the right to resort to the judiciary to resolve the matter,” Wali added.

The Journalists Syndicate board decided Friday to hold an emergency meeting Sunday to take disciplinary action against the Wali for attending the Constituent Assembly’s voting session on the final draft of the constitution.

Board member Gamal Fahmy said any pretext used by Wali to justify his attendance would be unacceptable because he was supposed to represent the syndicate, which had decided in a general assembly meeting to pull out from the Constituent Assembly.

He said Wali’s attendance was illegitimate and that he represented himself, not the syndicate or journalists.

Fahmy said Wali would at least be referred to a disciplinary committee. Syndicate bylaws stipulate that any member who violates the general assembly’s decisions must be punished. Fahmy said the law applies to syndicate head and board members.

Board member Gamal Abdel Rahim said Wali’s attendance gave legitimacy to the articles related to the detention of journalists, seizure of newspapers and dissolution of unions, as well as the article that states the president of the republic has the right to appoint the head of a national media council. Such articles could put journalist under state control, he said.

Wali’s secretary said the syndicate head told him he attended the session after Constituent Assembly members told him four demands for journalists had been accepted.

Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm

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