Syndicate Convention Postponed, Again: Journalists Try to Find a Way Out! [Archives:1999/08/Front Page]

February 22 1999

The general convention of the Yemeni Journalists’ Syndicate was supposed to have been held yesterday, Sunday February 21st, 1999. It was postponed, for the third time.
The agenda of the convention calls for electing a new board, as well as re-structuring of the by-laws and charter of the YJS. It didn’t happen.
A major reason for the difficulty is that there is a power struggle over who will control the YJS. The syndicate is, of course, a major power base.
The YJS used to be controlled by the Yemen Socialist Party, which had an advanced propaganda machine and understood the importance of the media in politics. But, with the relative decline of the YSP, the People’s General Congress (PGC) is trying to fill its shoes.
Today however, there is a new political environment. Independent and opposition party journalists are not willing to let any party take over their syndicate. That is why they are not willing to be party to the on-going joke.
A leading journalist dismayed at the PGC efforts to control the YJS said, “This is a professional not a political organization.”
Editors of 17 newspapers and as many as 425 columnists will stay away from the pre-determined elections. “The job of the syndicate is to help develop norms and standards for the profession, protect press freedom, and help train professional journalists,” said Ali Al-Saqqaf, Managing Editor of Al-Wahdawi newspaper.
Prime Minister Abdul-Karim Al-Iryani, also the Secretary-General of the PGC, has ordered payment of YR 5 million from government funds to finance the cost of holding the convention. The PGC has its eyes set on the top post of the YJS.
“Unless the PGC sees the light and stay away from the YJS, we will be forced to create another syndicate which will reflect the interests of the profession and its members,” threatened Saqqaf.