All of them speak amicably [Archives:2008/1155/Opinion]

May 15 2008

By: Ghamdan Al-Yousifi
A few days ago, some official media outlets published a statement by Country Director of National Democratic Institute (NDI) in Yemen Peter Dimitroff criticizing Joint Meeting Parties (JMP) and blaming them on boycotting gubernatorial elections.

“Boycotting governor elections creates bad impression about boycotters and indicates they have not yet attained full political maturity. This may give a wrong message to boycotter's supporters, as well as confirms weakness of the boycotter and its being unable to compete with others in a democratic manner,” these media quoted Dimitroff as saying during his interview with Minister of Local Administration.

These media went on to say that the international expert expressed his institute's willingness to extend all the necessary assistance and technical support to the Ministry of Local Administration to conduct governor elections, which he considered as a forward and crucial step on the way of enhancing democracy and moving toward local governance with broad powers.

Later on, the same man was quoted by as saying, “Since I arrived in Yemen, I have heard about gubernatorial elections and I am against these elections. I think that governor election will be a futile and meaningless process unless complete powers are given to the local governance. Under the current system of governance, likely elected governors will be merely administrative agents for the central government, and this is not controversial. Why do we elect governors but don't give them complete powers related with taxes and local resources?”

The international expert added that governor election is a hasty decision taken by National Defense Council as if we are in a state of emergency and may not resolve any pressing issues. “What we need is a clear strategy clarifying the steps of moving toward local governance with broad powers. I fear that the decision to have governors elected was taken as a reactive initiative to resolve the country's current issues. In my opinion, this is not a workable solution to the currently pressing issues,” he maintained.

Asked whether this means that NDI's position is in line with JMP with regard to conducting gubernatorial elections in the way suggested by the authority, Dimitroff replied, “NDI agrees with the JMP's viewpoint and feels that JMP member parties don't object to governor elections. These parties want a clear strategic vision to be based on clear steps for moving toward local governance and governor elections.”

Via his responses to questions, the international expert seems to be logical but in stories published by the official media, he seems to be opposing JMP.

It is unbelievable that Dimitroff will contradict himself in showing such contradictory positions. The matters needs more contemplation, particularly as the man's talks turned to arouse 'appetite' and attract attention of the various media outlets that attempt to win his amicability during the current time period.

Dimitroff has served in Yemen for nearly one and a half years since his predecessor Robin Madrid left Yemen. Madrid is the kind of lady that enraged the government during the final days of its mission and she was subjected to criticism by senior statesmen in Yemen. And, I think the same thing will happen to Dimitroff in the future, while stories published by the official media imply the government's attempt to win support of the international community that is objecting to the current policies.

The same behavior is pursued by JMP that seeks international support for their opposition against gubernatorial elections as suggested by the authority. The opposition parties feel that they need more international supporters during the current time period to prove that the government is wrong in dealing with the country's issues.

The international official usually gives serious speeches during the various symposiums and functions in the country that really diagnose the situation in Yemen. In a most recent conversation, he expressed concern that the decision to elect governors was taken as a reactive initiative to resolve the country's current issues, adding that this is not a workable solution to the pressing issues.

NDI Country Director noted that forming Supreme Commission for Election and Referendum (SCER) from judges is a mistake and a step backward, clarifying that investing the currently available experiences and forming the SCER in a way representing all the political parties is the best option. He said there is a great possibility to bring together all the viewpoints of political parties in Yemen and have all the political parties represented in the SCER.

He is of the opinion that People's demonstrations in streets is a new phase that came after citizens realized that the standing political organizations don't reflect their needs, pointing out that it is wrong to describe protests or sit-ins as being actions of treason while the authority must deal with such sit-ins and protests in an effective manner. He stressed the necessity of differentiating between legal demands and other irresponsible actions.

Source: Ray Weekly.