Al-Nahar [Archives:2004/723/Press Review]

March 25 2004

18 March 2004
Main headlines
– GPC saves the government from impasses of a demonstration demanding termination of Iraq occupation
– Al-Halima inhabitants of Taiz appeal to the president to save the governorate
– Government committee promotes for price increase and fears from disturbances
– Hunting down three terrorists and the Saudi government kills a Yemeni leading al-Qaeda in the Gulf
– Surgeons: gunfire shots mainly behind body deformations
The newspaper's political editor says the government of Bajammal is facing a difficult test, the first since it was formed in the wake of the parliamentary elections last April and the second for the man since he had been appointed in his post in March 2001. During his first term he had taken a decision of raising price of oil and its products and today he is preparing himself to apply a new rise that would inevitably cause negative reflections on the living situation of the population. As the first experience of the head of the government, who promised with a period of transparency and fighting corruption, had passed without acts of violence and protests, the new step may seem easier in application than the former. But in the eyes of observers it would undermine what remained of Bajammal's popularity and paves the way for a new government that would not bear consequences of that decision.
The big majority of the GPC in parliament has precluded the happening of real confrontation between the government and parliamentarians during the discussion of the budget, but 50 MPs from the ruling party expressed their opposition of any decision of increasing prices of oil products or food stuff. This points to the possibility of the expansion of the base of refusal in the parliament for fear from the members loss of their popular support in their constituencies.
It is no secret to mention that he drop in the currency value by 500 per cent and rise of food stuffs prices and fuel have led to the expansion of the poverty area till it has exceeded more than half of the population. It has pushed more than 45 per cent of those seeking jobs on the labour market to unemployment and forced tens of thousands of them from low ages to leave their schools in quest of job opportunities to help their families.