YJS elections to be held todayChaos at journalists’ meeting [Archives:2004/714/Front Page]

February 23 2004
Chaos and disorganization was the main feature of the conference, which is expected to continue today to announce results of elections and present final rrecommendations. Photos by Yasser Al-Mayyasi. (Yemen Times Photos)
Chaos and disorganization was the main feature of the conference, which is expected to continue today to announce results of elections and present final rrecommendations. Photos by Yasser Al-Mayyasi. (Yemen Times Photos)
Chaos ruled over the Third Conference of the Yemeni Journalists Syndicate (YJS) on Sunday when hundreds of journalists left the meetings in protest.
They left alleging that technical difficulties were intentionally created in the hall's audio system, resulting in the inability to hear the speeches and names of nominees for the elections.
Upon continuous protests, journalists were advised to leave the hall and the session was postponed to the afternoon. Participants were told to go to the Police Academy Hall where the elections would take place.
Elections are to be held today, when two major nominees will be competing for the position of chairman of the YJS: Hamoud Munassar and former chairman Mahboob Ali.
Competition was heated and tense between 106 candidates running for 12 posts representing the union council.
The journalists were supposed to start discussing the general and financial reports represented by the former leadership of the YJS on Saturday afternoon, but that did not take place because there were not enough participants.
The syndicate by-law stipulates that the general assembly should meet with a majority of journalists, but only 300 out of 800 journalists with participation cards attended the afternoon session. The total number of the union members is 986.
That's why the meeting was delayed to Sunday morning.
Hisham Bashraheel, editor-in-chief of al-Ayyam Daily, announced on Saturday his withdrawal from the election for the chairmanship.
He was presented as the candidate of President Saleh as well as the ruling party.
However, the GPC members in the syndicate refused in a meeting with Secretary-General Dr. Abdulkareem al-Iryani to vote for Bashraheel who, in his letter of withdrawal, harshly criticized the former leadership of the YJS and accused it of corruption and not dealing equally with all journalists and newspapers.
He also said that it has done almost nothing to protect the rights of journalists or improve their professional skills.
Dr. Iryani said that his party should gain almost seven seats in the syndicate council while four should be given to the opposition, and one to independent candidates.
The contest then focused on the independent candidate Hamoud Munasser, AFP correspondent and the former YJS chairman, Mahboob Ali who has been backed by some figures at the government and the power center.
While Mahbbob presented no written platform, Munasser called himself the “candidate of the profession,” focusing on the importance of improving the living standards and professional competence of journalists.
He said he is not representing or backed by any political party, warning against the politicization of NGOs which should work independently and without the influence of any party.
It is the first time journalists were enthusiastic to rebel against the custody of any party. That was very clear in the rush of people to run in the election and their interest to have fair play where everybody was given a chance.
They showed fear that the intervention of the government in directing the syndicate election results would bring about the fall of the union and might bring about divisions.
The PGC decided to have some of his 47 candidates withdraw so that there can be a chance for the others to win.
The results of the election are expected to be announced tomorow, Feb. 24.
The participants were interested that former leaders of the union should be held accountable for any misdeeds or corruption, something made clear through the intensified debate and hard questions put by the general assembly members while discussing the work of the union throughout the past four years.
Many believed no significant work has been accomplished either in protecting journalists against harassment, or improving their living standards throughout the demand for the issuance of their cadre.
Some candidates reported there has been a drop in press freedom in the last few years, as 38 journalists were interrogated by authorities in 2000-2001. In 2003 there were more than 80 reported cases of violations and harassment against journalists, writers and newspapers.