The head of Egypt’s newly formed National Press Authority, Karam Gabr, announced new leadership appointments in state-owned newspapers at a press conference on Wednesday.
The recently elected head of the Journalists Syndicate, Abdel Mohsen Salama, is to be the head of Al-Ahram’s board of directors, and Alaa Thabet, former chief editor of one of its sister publications Al-Ahram Al-Misaey, is to become the new chief editor. Thabet submitted his resignation from the National Press Authority (NPA) on Wednesday to avoid a potential conflict of interest.
Yassir Rizk will continue to head Al-Akhbar’s board of directors, while Khaled Mery, who is also a Journalists Syndicate board member, will be the newspaper’s new chief editor.
Journalist Abdel Razek Tawfiq was appointed new chief editor for Al-Gomhurriya newspaper, and Ahmed Pasha the new chief editor of Rose Al-Youssef.
There could be a potential conflict of interest with the appointments of both Salama and Mery, as both hold positions in the syndicate, which is meant to represent the rights of their employees.
President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi approved a new law governing the institutional organization of media in December, mandating the formation of three regulatory bodies to oversee Egyptian media. In addition to the NPA, the National Broadcasting Authority — tasked with monitoring the work of state-owned broadcast media — was also established, as was the Supreme Regulatory Media Council — the largest of the three regulatory bodies, tasked with overseeing private and state-owned media outlets, including electronic media.
Prior to the establishment of the NPA, the leadership of state-owned press organizations was traditionally selected by the lower house of parliament under former President Hosni Mubarak, and later the Supreme Council for the Organization of the Press, after the lower house was dissolved in December last year.
Sisi’s new legislation has been heavily criticized for giving the state greater control over the nation’s media, as most of the heads of major publications are selected by the president or these state-affiliated oversight bodies, which also have the power to fine or suspend publications and broadcasters and to monitor the funding of private and independent media outlets.