Al-Sahwa [Archives:2008/1174/Press Review]

July 21 2008

Thursday, July 17, 2008
Top Stories

-US State Department report accuses Yemen of violating public freedoms and practicing human rights abuses

-World Bank: price hikes may cause instability in Arab states

-Freedom House release 2008 report on Yemen

Yemen's government continued to clash with Zaidi Muslim rebels in the north in 2007, the website quoted a Freedom House's report on Yemen for 2008 as saying. The report added that the authorities also continued their crackdown on the press and free speech, prosecuting journalists who criticized the state and especially its northern military campaign. Also in 2007, the U.S. Millennium Challenge Corporation pledged more than $20 million in aid to fight accelerating corruption in the government.

The report adds that in September 2006, Yemen held its second presidential election since unification. President Ali Abdullah Saleh was reelected with 77 percent of the vote, and the ruling Grand People's Congress (GPC) party won by a similar margin in concurrent provincial and local council elections.

The 2006 presidential race was the first in which a serious opposition candidate challenged the incumbent. Saleh's main opponent, Faisal Ben Shamlan, was supported by a coalition of Islamist and other opposition parties and received 22 percent of the vote. The elections, which international observers deemed free and fair despite opposition allegations of fraud, secured Saleh's rule for another seven years and opened the door for the possible political candidacy of his son.

Yemen has faced security challenges from terrorist and secessionist movements over the past decade. Clashes in the northern region of Saada as part of an uprising by some members of Yemen's large community of Zaidi Shiite Muslims continued in 2007; hundreds of people had been killed in the fighting since it broke out in 2004.

The government faced other sources of opposition as well. In September 2007, police killed two army veterans who participated in protests aimed at government discrimination against communities in southern Yemen. In ongoing tensions between tribes and the government over poor social conditions, tribesmen near Sanaa blew up an oil pipeline in October. Revenues from oil exports make up 70 percent of Yemen's national budget.

The country continues to be plagued by serious economic problems, including widespread poverty. Economic growth has been slow, and unemployment hovers around 40 percent.