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Newspaper | Al-Ra’y al-Amm (Khartoum)

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Front page of Al Ray Al Aam, December 18, 2011 (TMCT)

Al-Ra’y al-Amm (or Al Ray Al Aam) newspaper is a subtly pro-government newspaper published in Khartoum.

Established: 1945

Circulation: 10,000 - 15,000 (NPC Dec. 2012)

Background

Al Ray Al Aam is the oldest Sudanese publication still in print. Established in 1945 by Ismail Al Atabani, the paper has traditionally expressed conservative views in line with the ideology of the Graduates’ Congress (1) and later on, supporters of Ismail Al Azhari, Sudan’s first prime minister from the National Unionist Party (NUP). In a recent development, the paper returned to print under the ownership of the Al Atabani family. Ghazi Salah Al Din Al Atabani, who could be described as the NCP’s lead intellectual, was twice a minister, former advisor to President Al Bashir, and current head of the party’s bloc in parliament. Ali Ismail Al Atabani assumed the chairmanship of the executive board from his father and steered the paper to the service of the NCP regime. During the split in the Islamic Movement the paper sided firmly with President Al Bashir and enjoyed a financial boom as the major recipient of government advertisements. Today it rarely, if ever, diverges from the official government line and avoids taking sides in inner NCP disputes. Nevertheless, the paper retains a sombre editorial style and a technical competence superior to other publications. The Atabani family recently sold a considerable chunk of its shares in the paper to Fathi Sheila, formerly a prominent politician in the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP). Sheila was thus named chairman of the executive board. The editor-in-chief is Kamal Hassan Bakheet, a veteran journalist with a long history of service in the state-owned press of Jafar Numeiri’s regime (1969-1985). Al Ray Al Aam is considered an authoritative source of information and opinion by the older generation of the educated Sudanese in the heartland. Opinion and editorials are contributed by a number of veteran diplomats and senior politicians from the mainstream NCP and the DUP. It was the favourite publication venue of the SPLM’s Mansour Khaled during the interim period of the CPA, and today features occasional writings of Sadiq Al Mahdi and a weekly article by his daughter, Rabah Al Sadiq Al Mahdi. By and large it can be considered the voice of the Khartoumian establishment.

(1) The Congress aimed to unite the educated Sudanese under a nationalist banner but throughout its brief history, from its launch in 1938 to Sudan’s independence in 1956, it was plagued by bickering. Opinion was split over preference for one or the other colonial master, Egypt or Britain, and allegiances to sectarian patron, Sayed Abd Al Rahman Al Mahdi of the Ansar or Sayed Ali Al Mirghani of the Khatmiyya. Drawing on the support of the Congress members, the two patrons eventually established their own parties, the Umma Party of the Ansar and the NUP of the Khatmiyya. These organizations replaced the Congress and went on to dominate Sudan’s politics for much of its post-colonial history.

Source: The Sudanese press after separation – Contested identities of journalism. MICT 2012, Page 36-37.

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The Sudanese press after separation – Contested identities of journalism - MICT 2012



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