Another political painFifth round of constitutional amendments [Archives:2008/1178/Opinion]

August 4 2008

Dr. Abdullah Awbal
I have a copy of the most recent constitutional amendments, which are currently discussed at the Shoura Council. Despite the fact that I understand nothing in the constitutional jurisprudence, I have seen that the high-ranking politician who proposed these amendments is not busy except in replacing governance of Parliament by governance of National Assembly.

I still remember a note made by Dr. Mohammed Ali Al-Saqqaf, who said that the constitutional talk about National Assembly in lieu of Parliament and Shoura Council implies birth of a third council from the womb of both Parliament and Shoura Council.

In fact, name of Parliament disappeared totally from all the legislative and oversight tasks in order to be replaced by National Assembly, and such a new council will be a jenny since identity of the previous two will disappear when it appears.

The surprising thing is that amendments referred the style of selecting Shoura Council to the Law, which is due to determine how this will work. On the other hand, electing Parliament is very clear in the constitution while the Law of electing the Shoura Council may come through the shrewdness via which governors were elected.

Despite all this, the relevant law gives both councils the same legislative powers. Had but learned that Article (125) as per the proposed constitutional amendments, which is composed of (a, b, c, d, e and f), stipulates that tasks of the Shoura Council, plus the legislation clearly, this would indicate that this council is merely an advisory body for the Executive Authority and affiliated with it. The consultations it provides are not binding.

So, it is politics and not the legal jurisprudence. Therefore, it is easy for any observer to realize the flagrant violation and confiscation of legal tasks that must be performed by an elected Parliament. This also means that powers and rights of Parliament have been confiscated in favor of the Executive Authority.

Although the consecutive Parliament formations so far elected according to the comfortable majority have been and still are unable to do anything in favor of voters, people fear the future may cause breakup and grinding of Parliament's bones in order not to survive for any longer.

In fact, this amendment doesn't aim to achieve the system of bicameral legislature. Instead, it is a trick to confiscate powers of oversight and legislation from Parliament. But, how? Suppose that the ruling General People Congress will lose in the upcoming parliamentary election, scheduled for April 2009 and hardly get half of the Parliament seats (151 seats) while vital matters in the council requires that the party should win two-thirds of the seats, the ruling party will resort to make deals with the opposition.

Arrogance of the ruling party doesn't allow it to make concessions and accept solutions less than it wants. However, the existence of a Shoura Council, constitutionally affiliated with the Executive Authority, will help ensure this part the two-thirds of seats required. The product will be 151 Parliament members plus 151 Shoura Council members, and this will constitute majority of the total members of both councils numbering 452.

I haven't critically read the copy of constitutional amendments, which I have obtained, because I prefer that my colleagues specialized in law who are always generous in providing consultations to the Islah Party to do so. Consequently, I don't believe in the tale of returning the timer to the zero point, nor do I consider this as the direct outcome of efforts expended by veteran opposition leaders.

When I heard about proposing the constitutional amendments in a surprised manner as part of a series of discussions on pressing crises, calamities and devastation, I then started to read the amendments once again. I am searching for a method to prevent our political regime from approving any laws or decisions amid the current catastrophic situations.

I need Yemeni people to learn that Constitution of the Republic of Yemen, established via a popular referendum after the two parts of Yemen were unified in 1990, has turned into wreckage.