Abdul Rahman Al-Hamdi, ex-MP and younger brother of former Yemeni President:”Continued silence and no comment on the current situation mean conspiracy with corrupt forces” [Archives:2006/934/Reportage]

April 3 2006

Mustafa Rajeh
Yemen's upcoming presidential race represents a turning point for broad political conflict. Independent presidential candidates number almost 10, while the Joint Meeting Parties (JMP) has yet to name its candidate. Abdurrahman Al-Hamdi, former MP (1993-97) and brother of former President Ibrahim Al-Hamdi (1974-77), last week joined the list of presidential candidates.

The Yemen Times forwarded Al-Hamdi the following questions to unveil the reasons behind his bid for candidacy and identify policies he intends to adopt to rescue Yemen from corruption and an ailing economy.

The public has the impression that most presidential bids up to now are not serious, including yours. How do you react to this?

It is difficult to answer this question, as such a widespread issue requires study and research to unveil the reasons why people have this viewpoint. Saleh's long reign, coupled with lack of well-established democratic conventions, as well as lack of experience regarding peaceful transfer of power, are some of the reasons encompassing the highest political post with horror. Concerning my nomination, I am serious enough to compete in the presidential race.

Why did you make a bid for the presidency and what are the motives behind your bid?

There are reasons galore, one of which is that we want to establish presidential candidacy as a constitutional right, whether for me or any citizen having the desire to run. My participation, along with others, intends to highlight the principle of peaceful transfer of power, moving it from theoretical clauses into real life. Peaceful transfer of power must not remain a slogan for media practice.

What is of great importance is that Yemenis live in difficult and unprecedented conditions impacting political, economic and social situations. Absence of law and order, as well as corruption became the main law, while order was the exception. Public property was plundered and mishandled as if it belonged to officials.

All of these greatly infringed upon the community, with the poor constituted the population's overwhelming majority while a small minority controls wealth and power. Government officials monopolize trade activities using their power to defeat any rivals. International reports on Yemen's deteriorating economic situations and freedoms are viewed as a thorough description of the condition. We know reforms persist, particularly in political and economic areas, and therefore, must not be delayed any longer.

As a Yemeni citizen, I believe continued silence and absence of reaction to what happens in everyday life mean conspiracy against public interests.

You have been absent from political participation since your 1993-97 Parliament post. Now, after several years, you return as a presidential candidate. Does this affect your competition?

Possibly, but I think continued media presence and political presence in government institutions have become formal. Parliament seems to have a weak, if not passive, role, driving the country backward via its legislation. What is of crucial importance is that Parliament is controlled by the executive authority and presidential directives. The situation caused Parliament to lose credibility and forced me not to stand again in parliamentary elections. I did not withdraw because of the loss; rather, I had a great opportunity to win.

We need to contemplate about ourselves and our presence must be effective. I believe I can make the public hear my address and program in the upcoming presidential race. Winning is not the ultimate standard for success, but real competition in the shadow of free and fair polls will be considered, if it happens, a victory for the democratic process.

How do you assess Yemen's deteriorating political and economic situation, as highlighted by many indicators?

The reform process is a complete system that should be implemented now and political reform is the gate for other comprehensive reforms. Political reform begins with agreement on reforming the electoral process to be conducted freely and fairly and free of vote fraud. Only this can achieve reforms.

What is your attitude toward the political reform program presented by the JMP? Will you coordinate your attitude with the opposition?

I asked for dialogue with the JMP to jointly coordinate the upcoming presidential race. I requested the JMP recommend me as the opposition presidential candidate, particularly as it has not yet named a candidate to represent it. All political programs serve the country, whether presented by the opposition or other parties. The most important thing is that all parties showing their programs must have a clear vision regarding their work priorities, as well as clarity to convey them into real life.

In your press statement, you mentioned that you have an ambition to aspire to former President Ibrahim Al-Hamdi's presidential reign (1974-77), described by many Yemenis as “The Golden Reign.” If you win, what are the most prominent policies you intend to resume?

The current situation is totally different from that of the '70s, but there are numerous principles for the state. I will work hard to reestablish the state of law and order that represented Ibrahim Al-Hamdi's program, which contained the following prominent features:

1- Reestablishing the principle of equal citizenship and justice, as it was a state for citizens and not a state for sheikhs, as experienced now.

2-Reconsidering the status of law and order.

3-Reconsidering achievements of the September 26 and October 14 Yemeni revolutions.

4-Updating and making the judiciary totally independent.

5- Fighting corruption and maintaining public funds.

6-Activating control and monitoring and affiliating the Central Organization for Control and Audit (COCA) with Parliament, ensuring that COCA reports are published and implemented.

I plan to work hard to finalize democratic construction and expand local governance to reclaim all authorities, enabling the public to directly elect governors. The Shoura Council must be elected with equal shares to all governorates. I plan to announce a complete electoral program in coming days.

If you or another candidate other than the current president, who has been in power for 38 years, wins, do you think you will enter the presidential palace peacefully?

We have to be optimistic and hope affairs go easily. This is the most challenging test for our democratic experience.

Do you believe the upcoming presidential polls will be free and fair, and will you boycott it if the opposition decides to do so?

As mentioned earlier, I plan to dialogue with the opposition and then answer this question.

Which political or social current do you seem to be closer to?

Every honest citizen who is jealous for his country, who trusts my electoral program and votes for me is giving me legitimacy to represent him, fulfill my tasks and apply my electoral program.

From your point of view, will the upcoming presidential elections serve the democratic movement or will they be a frustrating factor to democratic development?

This depends on the integrity of elections and public participation.

Al-Hamdi's letter requesting to run for the coming presidential elections.

Dear Judge Mohamed Abdurrahman Al-Qadhi Al-Rubai, Head of the Joint Meeting Parties Supreme Council:

I would like to inform you that I intend to nominate myself in the upcoming presidential elections and I request your approval as a Joint Meeting Parties nominee.

If you agree to my nomination, my electoral program will be what you agree upon and I will abide by it fully. I wish to meet with you to discuss all matters concerning the program and elections nomination.

With regards,

Abdurrahman Mohamed Al-Hamdi,

March 2006

Al-Hamdi:A brief background

Abdulrahman M. Al-Hamdi was born in December 15 , 1961. He is a George Washington University graduate form Modern Engineering Faculty. He worked as a manager of the Technical Department at the Cabinet, and manager of Design and Specification Dept. in the General Authority for Roads and Bridges. He was a member of parliament from 1993 to 1997. He is currently the Chairman of Yemeni Democratic Forum. Al-Hamdi is married with 3 children.