2003 national election Blood mars registration [Archives:2002/41/Front Page]

October 7 2002

Armed clashes tainted some voter registration centers this week, as an estimated one million voters signed up for 2003 national elections.
A bloody start
During the four days of the voters’ registration for the upcoming parliamentary elections, tens were reported injured because of violence.
The Supreme Committee for Elections (SCE) declared that one million eligible voters have already registered for the elections, expected to be more violent than local council elections held in 2001.
Most of the clashes occurred in Ibb, Hajja, Saada, Jowf, and Mareb governorates because of disputes over lists of voters and also because of political and party-related issues.
In Mareb governorate’s center number 279, an outbreak of violence resulted in the injury of a number of citizens. The dispute was in lists of members of electoral committees.
In Taiz governorate’s center number 48, in the Maqbana constituency, four men were injured after the head of the Islah party fired at the security committee representatives to prevent them from moving from the center to other branch centers in the constituency due to an argument with the ruling Party General People’s Congress (GPC).
An official source at the Ministry of Interior said that the Islah party’s branch in Maqbana attempted to fire at Colonel Saleh Al-Dhanin, head of Brigade 33.
In his answer to a question by Yemen Times on whether this is a signal that arms would be used in coming stages of elections, Mr. Abdo Al-Janadi of the SCE said, “I call upon all parties to take things under control and use peaceful means to resolve any disputes and not revert to weapons and violence. “The violence has resulted to the suspension of work in more than 80 election centers because of various disputes” he said.
“I also call upon the public to not let such violence hinder their participation in the democratic practice in their regions.”
Al-Janadi did not rule out the possibility that violence may be supported by certain opposition forces because of some opposition parties’ inability to deliver their promises to their members or for other tribal and political reasons.
To be held in April, the election will see more than 300 parliamentary seats filled. Voters are now registering.
The number of citizens at the registration centers has been increasing every day, said Abdu Mohammed al-Janadi, head of the Information and Awareness sector.
“We are optimistic about the number of people registered at these centers,” he said.
Al-Janadi emphasized the committees entrusted with registering voters will note any registration infringements that may occur, even after the registration period ends.
He further called members of the cabinet, parliament, Shura council, and the local authority to help raise awareness among people on the importance of registration processes and the necessity to get new electoral cards.
He added that registration gives the right to everybody to participate in the elections. Previous electoral cards will be cancelled.
The last national election was held in 1997. The General People’s Congress holds 187 of 301 seats.
Meanwhile, a statement has been issued by the Islah Party mentioning an illegal infringement in some registration centers in some governorates of the republic.
They claim the legal age of each registrant is not being considered. The statement added that Constituency 184 has been shifted to the house of a Member of Parliament in Hodiedah.
In Marib, there are also reports that registration forms have disappeared and distributed only to the members of the GPC.
A worsening situation is also occurring in Taiz governorate, where a number of military units of the republican guard are armed and deployed in three election constituencies.
In a statement issued by the Joint Political Meeting, JPM in Lahj governorate strongly condemned the unfair allocation of some committees in al-Qabaitah and other districts.
The JPM has refused all attempts of the GPC to shift or change centers by the constituencies to other locations unless the SEC has approved the shift. The statement described these behaviors as “inconsiderate and uncaring.”
The JPM has called concerned bodies to perform their duties while showing respect for the law.
It also called for the monitoring of any election frauds that may occur.