Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Leader Egyptian Wafd party buys newspaper El Dustour

The leader of the liberal Egyptian Wafd party, Sayed el-Badawy, bought the independent newspaper Al-Dustour, in a bid to enhance his party’s chances in the upcoming parliamentary and presidential elections.
Al-Dostour Executive Editor Ibrahim Mansour said Monday that el-Badawy signed the acquisition agreement with Ahmed Essam Fahmy, the newspaper publisher, after two months of negotiations
According to the newspaper Al-Masry al-Youm Badawy paid LE16 million (some 2,5 million dollars) to acquire both the daily and weekly editions of the newspaper.Mansour told Al-Masry Al-Youm that under the agreement, the new buyer will maintain the same editorial policy and retain all the current editors.
In a press statement, Al-Dostour announced that Coptic businessman Edward Reda is one of the new shareholders.
El-Badawy was quoted in the statement as saying he is keen to "maintain the paper as one of the most important platforms of freedom, courage and independent opinion.”
The purchase of Al-Dostour, one of Egypt’s leading dissident newspapers, is seen as another step in El-Badawy's plans to revive his party since he was elected as its new leader in May. El-Badawy, 60, has recently managed to attract a number of prominent public figures to his party, such as poet Ahmed Fouad Nigm, preacher Soad Saleh and business tycoon Ramy Lakah. He has also expressed his willingness to cooperate with the Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt’s strongest opposition movement.

Al-Dostour ranks fifth among Egypt's dailies in terms of circulation, after Al-Ahram, Al-Masry Al-Youm, Al-Akhbar and Al-Goumhouriya. The newspaper's daily edition sells 45,000 to 55,000 copies, while its weekly sells 85,000. The paper is known for its harsh criticism of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, particularly through its Chief Editor Ibrahim Eissa. Eissa was sentenced to six months in prison in 2008 for publishing "false information” about Mubarak's deteriorating health, but was later pardoned by the president.
El-Badawy also owns Egypt’s biggest private television network, al-Hayat. However, he has sofar refrained from using his satellite channels to market his political ambitions. Apart from this tv-network and the now acquired Al-Dustour, there is also the party newspaper 'Al -Wafd'', with a small circulation and without much impact.   
In 2005, Egypt’s secular opposition parties together managed to obtain 14 seats, less than one percent of the parliament’s 454 seats. By contrast, the Muslim Brotherhood received 88 seats. Around 200 members of the Wafd party have expressed interest in running in the upcoming elections. The party's ruling board intends to choose 125 candidates by 7 September.

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