Al-Sahwa [Archives:2008/1208/Press Review]

November 17 2008

Thursday, Nov. 13, 2008
Top Story

– Opposition parties urge fans not to involve in current voter registration process

Joint Meeting Parties (JMP), also known as the major opposition alliance in Yemen, has called again its members and supporters to avoid the voer registration process, considering the procedure as an attempt by the authorities to manipulate the voter registers and rig the upcoming elections, the website reported in its lead story.

It added that Official JMP Spokesman Mohammad Al-Mansour said boycotting the voter registration process is a first step to end the authorities' control of the entire electoral process, voicing his appreciation to those who have boycotted what the opposition parties described as “an illegal procedure”.

The Supreme Commission for Elections and Referendum (SCER) had called on citizens to go to registration centers to enroll their names into voter registers and asked those who wish to transfer to new area of residence to head to the centers.

According to the website, Voter registration committees in 11 voting centers in the Shuaib district of the Dhalea governorate were banished after as many as 130 male and female members out of a total of 210 refused to engage in the voter registration process. Citizens also prevented other staff to enter polling stations to carry out the process. In addition, voter registration staff in other 6 centers of constituency # 296 was expelled too.

In Constituency # 297 in the same governorate, citizens drove voter registration staff off seven voting centers in the areas of Hebail Al-Suq, Lakamat Al-Duki, Al-Mawkula, Al-Damna and Al-Radaou. In Constituency # 300 in Qataba district, citizens held a huge rally, demanding that voter registration staff leave their area. In the Azareq district, the voter registration staff in four centers was expelled while citizens confiscated all their documents and materials after they refused to evacuate the center.

In Shabwa, citizens forced voter registration staff to leave two voting centers in Al-Sha'aba area, birthplace of Aref Al-Zuka, member of ruling party General Committee. Other staff in Constituency # 135 was not allowed to assume their work in the areas of Hada, Al-Arm, Al-Khabr and Al-Raid. The illegitimate committees were also prevented to perform their duties in the districts of Habban and Al-Saeed in the same constituency.

In the Radhoum area of the same governorate, voter registration staff were not allowed to enter many centers, as citizens protested against previous electoral promises made by the ruling party and haven't been fulfilled yet.

Additionally, Principal of Jala'a School Mohammed Badas was terminated from his job as he refused to allow voter registration staff has access to his school. The health unit in the area was changed into lodging for the staff. Beir Ali School in the same areas stopped providing classes to students as its teachers turned to work as voter registration staff.

In Markha area, citizens did not allow the electoral staff to begin their work in many voting centers in their constituencies # 136 and 137. Other citizens in the governorates of Beidha, Dhamar, Amran, Al-Jawf, Marib, Ibb and Hajja prevented voter registration staff to do their job.

In Amran, citizens in Bani Suraim district drove security personnel off their area upon their arrival and evicted voter registration staff from schools in the area. Those citizens distributed brochures to villages, declaring their rejection of the upcoming electoral process. They said that the elections did nothing for them with the exception of rotating posts between corrupt officials.

In Amran's Jarman district, citizens forced the electoral staff to evacuate centers in their Constituency # 283, thereby bringing the number of evacuated centers to seven. In Khamir district of the same governorate, staff in Constituency # 284 was forced to leave the voting centers by angry citizens as soon as they assumed their job.

Other citizens in Houth district refused to welcome staff in voting centers of Constituency # 283. And in Constituency # 290 in Sour district, Local councilor in the district Badr Hamid Al-Dharhani confirmed that many citizens in the area forced voter registration staff to evacuate two voting centers on Tuesday.

Constituency # 292 witnessed refusal of citizens, backed by ruling party leaders, to give access to electoral staff to enter their area and do the job. Well-informed sources revealed that GPC leaders in the areas demanded that the supervisory committee in Amran governorate grant 5,000 voting cards to the center in order to allow the voter registration staff to work, however, those requested voting cards outnumber residents in the area. Other voting centers in the same constituency witnessed gunfire over disputes between the electoral staff and citizens.

In Constituency # 293 of the Shahar district, the district's local councilor Mohammed Qayed Mukhabish ascertained that staff in one of the voting centers has undertaken to stop working after angry citizens refused to give them access to their area.

Voter registration staff was also expelled from many centers in Constituency # 115 of Ibb governorate and Constituency # 196 of Dhamar governorate, and the same obstacle was faced by staff in Constituency # 278 of Marib governorate.

In Dhamar's Hada district, the electoral staff stopped working after citizens denied them access to voting centers in the area protesting against the government that didn't fulfill a promise to establish a new electoral division. The residents received Dhamar governor, who visited the area, with a protest, saying that they are boycotting the electoral process.

In Abyan governorate, citizens in Ahwar, Mahfad, Sirar and Rasd districts didn't allow voter registration staff to approach voting centers in their areas, and the same thing took place in other areas around the governorate.

In Lahj, many districts witnessed various protests against the so-called “illegal voter registration committees” while in Hodieda the comic scene of such a foolish procedure began more drastically.

As many teachers were exempted from work at schools due to their involvement in the voter registration process, other teachers were also exempted under the pretext that they are GPC fans, who motivate citizens to go to polling stations to have voting cards, having seen that citizens are boycotting the comic process.

The government's comedy in Hodeida did not stop at this limit, as Aqels and Ameens in Hodeid city zones and rural districts were surprised to receive an official letter signed and stamped by North Hodeida Court on Nov. 10. The letter reads, “To all Aqels and Ameens: According to the ministerial circular # 20 of 2008 regarding presence of Aqels and Ameens in voter registration centers, you are required to collect all the particulars of citizens at age 18 and over, who are not enrolled in voter registers. You are required to attend the voter registration committees during the official working hours as of Nov. 11, 2008.”