Egypt's Minister of Information resigns

Osama Heikal submits resignation to Prime Minister Moustafa Madbouly over personal circumstances

Mandatory Credit: Photo by KHALED ELFIQI/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock (10803872b)
Egypt's Minster of State for Information Osama Heikal speaks to media at Ras Mohamed national park, South Sinai, near Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, 25 September 2020 (issued 30 September 2020).
Egypt's Minster of State for Information Osama Heikal, Sharm Elsheikh - 25 Sep 2020
Powered by automated translation

Egypt’s Minister of State for Information, Osama Heikal, resigned on Sunday after only 16 months in office, the government said.

The Cabinet said he submitted his resignation to Prime Minister Moustafa Madbouly because of personal circumstances.

Mr Heikal had been accused of negligence, financial infractions and breaching the constitution.

In October 2020, he made controversial statements about the quality and profitability of several state-run newspapers and TV channels.

Last month, members of Parliament members accused Mr Heikal of disrespect after he twice ignored summons to appear before a committee formed to look into accusations against him.

In comments posted last year on his personal Facebook page and the Information Ministry's page, he spoke of a growing obsolescence of Egyptian newspapers.

Mr Heikal said most Egyptians aged 35 and under, who are between 60 and 65 per cent of the country’s 100 million people, had stopped reading newspapers.

Several media outlets did not take kindly to his comments, especially since they came from someone who, in theory, is supposed to represent their interests in the government.

Prominent editors-in-chief responded with scathing opinion pieces accusing Mr Heikal of meddling in their business operations.

They said his comments could deter advertisers.

Mr Heikal suggested that their criticism was nothing but an unfounded smear campaign funded by foreign powers trying to undermine the Egyptian government.

It was taken to be a thinly veiled reference to the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood.

But many were not convinced by his defence because most of the criticism came from outlets loyal to President Abdel Fattah El Sisi’s government.

Mr Heikal was appointed minister of state for information in December 2019.

He was Egypt’s first information minister in six years, but his authority was often challenged by, or overlapped, that of the recently created National Media Authority.