Journalists Syndicate to discipline chief for attending constitution vote

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

Board member Gamal Fahmy said any pretext used by Mamdouh al-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.

The board will agree on suitable action to be taken against Wali Sunday, and the following Sunday, a general assembly meeting will be held in which withdrawing confidence from Wali as syndicate head will be discussed.

Al-Masry Al-Youm tried to contact Wali for comment, but he could not be reached.

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.

He explained that the demands were related to stating that the press is a popular authority, and canceling the clause that allowed the confiscation or closure of newspapers, as well as the clause that allows the dissolution of unions.

State-run newspaper Al-Ahram said on its website Thursday that Wali was attending the Constituent Assembly session to vote on the final draft.

Wali’s presence was expected to cause a storm of controversy, especially after the Journalists Syndicate board decided to pull him from the assembly in protest of its unbalanced formation.

Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm

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