Al-Hakimi: Yemen needs a different system [Archives:2006/913/Reportage]
By: Mohamed Bin Sallam
Abdulsalam Al-Hakimi, a prominent opposition figure living in Egypt, declared he will not retreat from his nomination, even if President Saleh runs in this year's presidential elections. He stated that those who rule now are not more competent than him.
He told media, “The regime scares opponents through repression, humiliating and offending purposely to force them to shut up. Those who refuse will be terrorized through kidnapping, beating, imprisonment or in the end, liquidation at the hands of a fanatic, an extremist or a car accident.”
Al-Hakimi added, “I am the candidate for the oppressed, miserable, unemployed and poor. I am also the nominee for the good ones who refuse the dynasty and sectarian spirit that rules the country now.”
Al-Hakimi's agenda caters to Yemeni tribes. In a Dec. 16 statement, he said Yemeni tribes are an important social sector impacting internal developments. “It is the second force that controls events in the country, apart from the regular army. It also is a civil force that can be modernized, and it is factually a force that is practicing modernization, without oppression, abuse or dictatorship.” He assured that tribal matters will be dealt with in a democratic manner that is more efficient than the current regime.
It is clear to those interested in Yemeni affairs that Al-Hakimi's federal proposal attracts attention. Whether it could be a solution to Yemen's problems, we put it forward for our readers to consider.
The electoral agenda he asked to be discussed by media, political parties and non-governmental organizations consists of five major points. They relate to political and constitutional reforms, judiciary reforms, fighting corruption, resolving revenge cases and military and security reforms.
Political and constitutional reforms
Al-Hakimi said, “A constituent assembly of legal and financial specialists, political personalities, representatives of university scientific societies, civil society organizations and syndicates, will be formed to set up a new constitution. It will be set on the following bases:
Establishing a federal system partitioning the country into four regions:
Hadramout region: Hadramout, Al-Mahrah, Shabwah, Marib, Abian and Al-Baidha governorates
Aden region: Aden, Lahj, Al-Dhale, Taiz and Ibb governorates
Sana'a region: Sana'a, Saada, Al-Jawf, Amran and Dhamar
Tihama region: Haja, Hodiedah, Raimah and Mahwit
This will fulfill the principle of people's self-rule and their participation in the administration of community and country, ending the grip of centralization. Inside each region will be administrative divisions for governorates and districts. Each also will have its elected people's council and executive authority. Each will have a local parliament and a government. Governorates and districts will have their people's councils and executive elected offices.
Establishing a genuine democratic Parliament:
This will be done by removing all the obstacles that prevent people from forming their parties and civil organizations, and dissolving the Committee of Party and Organizations Affairs. In case of conflicts between the parties or organizations, judiciary will be the only authority to resolve them.
The central government will be the responsible authority and will be formed of the parliamentarian majority. It is responsible and will be held accountable before the two central parliamentarian authorities.
The President and Vice President will be elected by secret poll in a joint meeting of the legislative councils. This will be guaranteed in case the President resigns or something happens to him, the Vice President will finish his remaining term of office. This will ensure political stability.
The central federal authority will be formed of two elected councils: a Parliament, which will represent all regions according to population, and a dignitary's council, in which all regions will be represented equally. Representatives will be elected from Parliament.
Regional parliaments will be formed through elections in the elected peoples' councils in the governorates and the districts, with equal numbers for each district regardless of population.
The proposed constitution should contain a transition period of four years, in which each region elects within their local parliament a president, a head for the federal government and a head for the federal parliament. This will guarantee peaceful power transfer between the four regions until reconstruction of the state's political and constitutional institutions. This certainly will ensure judiciary independence, separation of authorities and rule of law.
Al-Hakimi said, “Basic judiciary reform will be the first job preceding all others. Major measures will be taken to introduce a specialized, skilled and qualified judiciary in the fields of commercial, constitutional and administrative judiciary. All measures guaranteeing a decent living to the judge and his family will be secured so he will not be compelled to resort to other illegal methods.
Transfer, supervision, disciplinary measures, appointment, promotion and termination will be handled within the judiciary itself. Strict laws and punishments will be issued for transgressions.
The Ministry of Justice will be dissolved because it is an example of executive authority's bad influence over judiciary independence. Judiciary reform and restructure should be made at federal and local levels, governorates and districts.”
Al-Hakimi's theory on freedom and human rights
Al-Hakimi said, “I will make procedural reforms that will secure full human rights in belief, expression, thought, work, travel and movement. They also will guarantee peoples' private affairs and privacy of communications and personal secrets. All forms of aggression and degradation, like confiscation of nationality and passport, the right to live inside or outside the country, will be prohibited. Oppressive measures such as termination, salary and allowance stoppage and other forms of pressure will be stopped.
The constitution will include a provision banning all types of physical and psychological torture of citizens and foreign residents. Innocent relatives and friends of any person shall not be exposed for the purpose of pressuring or extortion. Such acts will be severely punished and those committing such actions will be fired from their jobs.”
Al-Hakimi said he will firmly face all forms of corruption and organized crime, especially drug trafficking, prostitution, money laundering, bribery and plundering public funds. He also will tackle environmental destruction, destabilization and pollution.
He will strictly face efforts that are changing Yemen into a safe haven for terrorists, extremists and criminals. He will stop all direct and indirect support and facilities to them. The constitution will assure asylum rights in Yemen to all those fearing for their lives and rights. They will not be deported or extradited unless they committed terrorist or penal crimes or instigated violence and terrorism.
He said he will dissolve the Ministry of Information and change audio, visual and print media into shareholder companies with 25 percent staff ownership. Remaining shares will be for public subscription. This will ensure independence of these media establishments so they will be neutral in developing public opinion awareness and transparent conveyance of news.
All punishment against publications will be banned, except those infringing upon individuals' rights. Judiciary will be the only authority responsible for making decisions.
The constitution will provide for canceling execution for political crimes.
Al-Hakimi said, “Yemeni individuals will be our top priority in financial reforms.” He said he will furnish a decent life for them. He will work to limit the deterioration in peoples' lives, compared to that of wealthy key officials who obtained their wealth through corruption and embezzlement.
He said, “We will adopt a fair distribution of the petroleum and mineral revenues. They will be distributed as follows:
– 20 percent of land treasures will go to the state.
– 20 percent of unified taxes will go to the state.
– 55 percent will go to national social insurance.
– 5 percent will be for production areas for treatment of environmental and health damages due to mining
Economic and commercial activity
Al-Hakimi said as soon as he assumes office, he will privatize all public projects. Employees will be given 40 percent of shares and the other 60 percent will be for public subscription. The law specifies the mechanism of privatization.
All appearances, obstacles and impediments that alienate investors will be ended. Incentives and motivations attracting investors will be encouraged. There will be legal, procedural, security and financial guarantees, with the state securing and compensating investors in case of loss or damage for non-commercial or administrative reasons.
Al-Hakimi said he will establish strategic industrial and agricultural producing projects. In case investors will not invest in the projects, their shares will be presented to the public, according to provisions in the privatization section.
Wages and taxes
Al-Hakimi promised to reconsider the wage policy so there will be balance between income and prices. Basic income should not be less than $150.
Multiple customs imposed on investors and individuals will be lifted. A customs of 20 percent will be imposed and those with limited income will be exempted.
The present fiscal system will be replaced by the fiscal system used in the south before unification because it is more efficient in fighting corruption.
The Central Organization for Control and Audit (COCO) will be responsible only before the legislative system. No other authority will interfere in its responsibilities.
It will not be legal to terminate, change, appoint or transfer any officials, beginning with deputy ministers. This will only be done according to civil service law.
Al-Hakimi also assured that he will establish social insurance institutions and pledged to merge in them all the imminent social insurance authorities, pension and other institutions. The legislative body will appoint the establishment's executive board and the establishment will be subject to COCO supervision.
Establishment proceeds will be:
– 55 percent from petrol and gas revenues
– 2.5 percent from the total budget and Zakat revenues
– Amounts retained from corruption and unlawful wealth
– Legal Zakat of 2.5 percent from companies, individuals and investment projects, in addition to contributions, aid and other charitable works
Duties of the establishment
To study poor families' situations, their numbers, income, ages and any other needed surveys. To keep records of these families, orphans, disabled and elderly for the whole country. It may ask help from authorities and sheikhs in this respect.
There should be statistics about the unemployed, their qualifications and families. Overlapping with social insurance should be avoided.
The establishment should pay regular monthly salaries to poor families, orphans and the unemployed.
The establishment should build public health, educational, cultural and social institutions and “houses for the poor and orphans.” Poor families could make use of these buildings by paying appropriate sums in return.
It is the establishment's duty to amalgamate marginalized societies into the community and make them partners in all pubic activities of educational, residence and health projects. Their sons are to be motivated to continue their education, join public jobs, parties and civil societies.
Al-Hakimi assured his intention to launch war against corruption in cooperation with the international community. He will establish a national authority with wide authorization for this purpose. The following procedures will be followed:
Comprehensive investigation in all corruption and illegal wealth and referring them to judiciary
He said he will immediately carry out money quittance for all key officials.
Al-Hakimi said he will drop the right to prescribe corruption, crimes against humanity and unlawful wealth cases.
There should be a constitutional provision preventing key officials' relatives, up to third grade, from assuming key positions within two years of their relative's departure from the job.
Al-Hakimi called for a mechanism to investigate the background of those who will lead key institutions such as civil, military, ministerial, ambassadors, Supreme Court, military leaders and others.
To fight ethical corruption, Al-Hakimi said all who are found to be working in intelligence in the judiciary and educational fields, especially in universities, will be fired. He said a judge who is an intelligence member will be unconscientious, whereas a teacher in intelligence is incompatible to bring up future generations.
Al-Hakimi also said the National Organization for Corruption Control will submit its findings to COCO, which will refer its assessment to judiciary.
Al-Hakimi also assured there will be no immunity for anyone, from the president to the lowest official.
Resolving tribal revenge cases
Al-Hakimi said once he assumes the presidency, he will do the following:
“A national tribal conference will be held, in which a comprehensive reconciliation will be signed between the tribes for five years. Revenge will be stopped between all tribes. Punishments will be imposed on those who violate this deal.
– Families of revenge victims will receive monthly salaries from social insurance.
– A deal will be made to refer revenge cases to Sharia law.
Military and security reforms
Al-Hakimi said, “We will make comprehensive military reforms in the following fields:
1- The military will be converted into a productive investment institution in addition to its defense duty. This will be done through building agricultural, industrial, residential and road projects. This will create an investment institution and something to increase its personnel's income.
2- Classification of a competent force according to its scientific skills and quality, not only quantity.
3- Rationalize armament policy and curtail weapons expenditures which lead to citizens' hardships.
4- The Defense Minister will be wholly responsible for army affairs. The president's role as supreme commander will be only to approve appointment, promotion and recommendations of the defense minister. He also will declare war and peace and has no right to interfere in administrative, financial or operational affairs.
1. Annex political and national security to the government by annexing it to the Minister of Interior's authority, thus placing it under direct supervision and accountability to the legislative and judicial institutions.
2. End the security devices' control over state institutions, thereby ending the state terror it evokes over citizens.
3. Stop all spying, repression appearances and transgressions against citizens' privacy. Storming and arrests without judicial warrants also will be prohibited.
4. Forbid all security methods of penetrating and bribing their party members. Initiating party splits and corrupting political life of parties, syndicates and civil societies also is to be forbidden.
5. Security funds are to be controlled and supervised by legislative, judiciary and COCO.
6. Clear security devices involved in assassinations, torture and corruption and refer them to judiciary. Prescribed principles will not be applied in their cases.