Al-Ahram Weekly   Al-Ahram Weekly
9 - 15 September 1999
Issue No. 446
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New mouthpiece for Labour

By Mona El-Nahhas

Ibrahim Shukri
Ibrahim Shukri
Ibrahim Shukri's Labour Party has applied for a licence to publish a new weekly newspaper, Al-Gamaheer, which, some party officials hope, will do a better job at expressing its policies than its present mouthpiece Al-Shaab.

The Islamist-oriented party has recently been torn by a power struggle between Adel Hussein, the party's secretary-general, and Ahmed Shukri, son of chairman Ibrahim Shukri.

The dissension escalated in April following elections to the party's executive committee. Hussein was accused of rigging the ballot to gain greater control over party affairs. Party members from several governorates submitted their resignations, protesting the elections' results, which they viewed as a threat to the party's future. They expressed fear that Hussein would lead a "liquidation" campaign to get rid of his opponents, including the party's founders. They also initiated legal action against Hussein and his followers, accusing them of using violence and thuggery to rig elections in their favour. But the lawsuit was thrown out by the Court of Urgent Affairs three months ago.

Ibrahim Shukri, who initially conceded that the elections' results were unfair, later changed his position claiming that voting and vote-counting were sound. He also denied the existence of any internal party splits and, on more than one occasion, appeared keen to stress party unity.

A group of party members, headed by Ahmed Shukri, 60, disapproved of the position taken by the party's chairman. They threatened that if he did not order a vote re-count and dismiss Hussein and his supporters they would submit a collective resignation to the Political Parties Committee.

Ibrahim Shukri turned down their demands but promised to take regulatory decisions in order to streamline the party's policies. Foremost among these decisions was the publication of Al-Gamaheer. Ibrahim Shukri told Al-Ahram Weekly that the new publication will not be a substitute for Al-Shaab, which will soon become a daily. Shukri said that he has sent all the necessary documents for publishing the new weekly to the Supreme Press Council. "We are now waiting for the reply," he said.

Ahmed Shukri, who is enthusiastic about the idea of publishing Al-Gamaheer, said that the new weekly will "complement" Al-Shaab. "We will soon be working on the zero issues," he said, adding that Al-Gamaheer will be issued every Wednesday and will attempt to redress Al-Shaab's weak spots.

The editorial policy will be different. "Readers get bored with Al-Shaab's lengthy articles, something which we will certainly avoid in Al-Gamaheer," Ahmed Shukri said. "Moreover, the newspaper will avoid dragging the party into unjustified wars without first consulting party officials. In other words, Al-Gamaheer is going to reflect the party's general positions, instead of expressing the personal opinions of its chief editor." The newspaper, however, will share with Al-Shaab the call for stronger Egyptian ties with Libya and Sudan, as well as an Islamist ideology.

The two newspapers will have one board of directors. "This way, the party chairman will have complete control over every word that is published," Ahmed Shukri said.

Expressing hope that the new newspaper will help to heal the party's wounds, he added that it will attempt to be impartial and will not resort to fanaticism or slander.

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