* Papers allied to Gaddafi’s son back on newsstands
* Stopped printing in January alleging official pressure
* Editor say papers now have official support
By Ali Shuaib
TRIPOLI, July 8 (Reuters) - Two newspapers allied to a reform-minded son of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi were back on newsstands on Thursday after a six-month absence that had been seen as a sign the reformist camp was losing influence.
The Oea and Quryna newspapers have helped promote a reform agenda pushed by Gaddafi’s son Saif al-Islam, a man viewed by many as a possible successor to his father but who is locked in a turf war with a conservative old guard.
Analysts say that since the print editions of the titles were suspended in January — a decision the papers’ managers said they were forced to take by official pressure — Saif al-Islam has been able to consolidate his power base.
International rights groups have praised the two newspapers for testing the limits of press freedom in Libya by publishing stories about official corruption. Staff had continued to publish them online after the print editions stopped.
“The strong demand on our web site encouraged us to come back to the newsstands, particularly since we also overcame our financial problems after we got support from official circles,” Oea editor-in-chief Inas Abdelrazak Hamida told Reuters.
Since emerging from international isolation in the last decade, oil exporter Libya has attracted growing interest from foreign businesses. They worry though that shifts in the balance of power could jeopardise their investments.
Oea and Quryna used to be published daily but will now become weekly newspapers.
The head of the Al Ghad media group, which owns the two newspapers, said he wanted Libyan journalists to use their freedom responsibly.
“We want a serious and free press to emerge, but what kind of freedom are we talking about here?,” said Suleiman Dughah, a journalist critical of Muammar Gaddafi’s rule who took over as director of the media group last year.
“A responsible freedom, not a freedom that will allow (the press) to write about peoples’ private lives or which threatens our values,” Dughah told Reuters. (Additional reporting by Lamine Chikhi in Algiers; Writing by Christian Lowe)