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THE JUDICIAL committee supervising professional syndicate polls has begun registration procedures for candidates running in Bar Association council elections due 23 May, reports Mona El-Nahhas.
The names of nominations can be submitted up to next Sunday.
On the first day of nominations, 12 candidates running for the post of the syndicate chairman and 98 nominees vying for the council's 44 seats submitted their relevant documents amid cheers from their supporters.
Islamist lawyer Mokhtar Nouh, who was planning to run in the polls for the chair, will not be taking part after judge Farouk Sultan, head of the judicial committee, on Sunday stripped Nouh of his membership in the syndicate, citing a three-year jail term which Nouh served after a military court found him guilty.
With Nouh out of the picture, competition for the chairmanship post will be confined to former syndicate chairman Sameh Ashour, chairman of the Giza branch Hamdi Khalifa, and prominent lawyer Ragaai Atiya. Despite his Nasserist leanings, Ashour is widely rumoured to be getting unlimited governmental backing. Khalifa is viewed by a large number of lawyers as a reform leader. Atiya, an NDP member, insists he will run as an independent candidate. Addressing lawyers on Monday after submitting his name, he denied getting any support either from the government or from the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood.
Despite their political affiliations, all the candidates are hoping the elections will not be postponed for what would be the third time. Polls at the Bar Association were halted twice by two court rulings passed by the Administrative Court in October last year and in January. The first ruling said Law 100/1993 regulating polls at professional syndicates was not correctly applied. In its second ruling, the court ordered a halt to polls after numerous irregularities were discovered in voters' lists.
NINETEEN private clinics in Cairo and Helwan closed down on 9 April in protest against low salaries. The Doctors' Syndicate called on private clinics to join a series of protests it said it is organising until their demands are met.
An official statement issued by the syndicate said its members were protesting against the low wages of doctors and the government's procrastination in paying doctors their promised raises. The syndicate issued a list of the names and addresses of the private clinics in Cairo. Nearly 65,000 private clinics which form more than 80 per cent of private clinics all over the country's governorates, have responded to the strike in one form or another.
Hamdi El-Sayed, chairman of the Doctors' Syndicate, said the names of other clinics which participated in the strike were not available "because they are supervised by the syndicates of their respective governorates". Public and hospital clinics did not participate in the strike. Neither did university educational hospitals.
This is the first strike that the Doctors' Syndicate organised this month and El-Sayed vowed to continue the protests until all their demands are met. According to El-Sayed, the strike was successful because most clinics in villages responded. "Doctors working in these places are the ones our demands are intended for in order to improve their status. Cairo doctors do not really need much help because their private clinics here do the job for them," El-Sayed added.
Tears of a clown
MORE than 200 workers at the Egyptian National Circus staged a four-hour protest on Sunday, demanding an increase in their salaries and accusing the Ministry of Culture of neglecting the circus. The workers protested from 1pm to 5pm in Agouza. They also expressed concern over the Ministry of Culture's intention to privatise the circus.
Protesters carried signs saying, "Where are our rights and where is the Ministry of Culture?" Adel Merghani, an employee at the circus, said they decided to stage a sit-in "after the head of the Popular Arts Sector, who is responsible for us, refused to hear us and after we failed to meet the minister. We have not received any raise for the past 10 years and the highest salary among us is LE125. Yet, we bring to the country around LE3 million of revenues per year.
"We demand the same treatment as that of the technical staff of theatres," Merghani added. The protesters demand that their salaries be equal to those who work in national theatres.
Culture Minister Farouk Hosni said the privatisation of the National Circus would benefit the government and the workers alike. Hosni said the circus "is a great and noble art" that could only succeed through "personal efforts away from the staff."
The protesters have vowed to stage another protest on 19 April if their demands are not met.