Head of the Press Syndicate Yehia Qallash held an open meeting on Monday at the headquarters of state-owned newspaper Al-Gomhuria, with the aim of providing an account of the syndicate’s performance during his first term.
Qallash expressed pride in bearing a trial and a two-year prison sentence for the sake of defending the profession and the syndicate.
“I am not a political leader and never used the syndicate to raise political slogans,” he said. “These elections are exceptional and our choices will determine the status of the history and future of this institution, which always stood firm in face of crises,” he continued.
Qallash asserted that there should be a differentiation between the Egyptian state to which “we all belong” and being in disagreement with one of its institution. He was hinting at the Ministry of Interior and the historical raid on the syndicate in May, which was followed by trials of himself and his deputies.
Qallash further spoke about the efforts conducted by the syndicate to improve the conditions and financial support for journalists, such as pensions and healthcare.
This comes as Qallash is running again for the position in the upcoming elections in March. Qallash submitted his candidacy application on Sunday, the syndicate’s website said.
This takes the number of candidates to a total of four for the time being, competing over the leadership of the syndicate. Talaat Hashem, El-Sayed El-Eskandarany, and Abdel Mohsen Salama are running for the position besides Qallash.
Although former head of the syndicate Diaa Rashwan had announced earlier in February his intention to run for the position, there have been no reports yet on the submission of his application. The deadline is on Wednesday.
17 other candidates applied for positions in the syndicate’s council, making up a total of 55 candidates over the past three days.
The current council includes 12 members, of which six members will be replaced in the upcoming elections. Some current members—including Khaled El-Balshy, Osama Dawoud, and Hanan Fikry—will run in the new elections.
El-Balshy, head of the syndicate’s freedoms committee, along with Qallash and Gamal Abdel Reheem, secretary-general of the syndicate, were sentenced to two years in prison over charges of harbouring suspects. The case is in the appeals phase.