Egypt axes media moguls

2005-07-04 17:07

Cairo - Egypt replaced the editors of all the top State-owned publications on Monday in the biggest reshuffle the media houses have seen in nearly 20 years.

The Shura Council, or upper house of parliament, which is responsible for State publications, appointed new chief editors to replace the outgoing bosses, all of whom are past the retirement age of 65.

The move comes amid growing differences between the young and old guard in the ruling National Democratic Party (NDP) and ahead of presidential and parliamentary elections scheduled for later this year.

The new editors are in their early 40s and mid-50s.

Ibrahim Nafie, who is in his 70s and board chairperson of Al-Ahram Publishing House, publisher of Egypt's flagship daily, Al-Ahram, was replaced by Salah al-Ghamri.

The council named Osama Saraya editor-in-chief of the newspaper, a position that was also held by presidential aide Nafie.

Nafie had been at the helm of Al-Ahram since 1979 when he became its chief editor.

In 1982, he was appointed Al-Ahram board chair, giving him control over all newspapers and magazines published by Al-Ahram.

The council also appointed Mohammed Fadil board chair of Akhbar Al-Yom Publishing House, Mohammed Barakat editor of the daily Akhbar, and Momtaz al-Qut editor of the weekly Akhbar Al-Yom newspaper.

Fadil and Qut take over from Ibrahim Saada, who served as board chairperson of Akhbar Al-Yom and editor of its weekly since the early 1980s.

He had announced his resignation in an article on June 18 criticising the camp of President Hosni Mubarak's son, Gamal, head of the NDP's policies' committee.

Mohammed al-Hadid became board chair of Dar Al-Tahrir Publishing House and Mohammed Ali Ibrahim editor-in-chief of Al-Gomhuriya, which is considered the most pro-government daily in Egypt.

Their appointment ends the reign of Samir Ragab,66, on Dar Al-Tahrir that had given him enormous political influence since the early 1990s.

Makram Mohammed Ahmed, the 70-year-old board chairman of Dar Al-Hilal Publishing House and editor-in-chief of the weekly Al-Musawar magazine, lost both positions, which he had held since the mid-1980s, to Abdul Qadir Shuheib.

The council also removed Mahfuz al-Ansari, board chairperson of the official Middle East News Agency, from his position and appointed Abdullah Hassan to replace him.

The Shura Council announced the changes as the top administrative court reviews a case filed by journalists from Al-Ahram and Akhbar Al-Yom demanding their chiefs be forced out for exceeding the retirement age.

Journalists' union chief Galal Aref complained in an open letter to the council last year that exempting heads of state-owned media houses from retirement laws could send the wrong signal to the public.