Breakthrough in Government and Opposition Dialogue [Archives:2001/38/Local News]

September 17 2001

The dialogue between government and the opposition about draft amendments to elections law is still going on amid indications of a breakthrough in some points of the discussions. Opposition sources told YT that the two sides are serious about the discussion and that they have agreed to conclude the dialogue by the 21st of this month, and then be endorsed by the parliament. The two sides have agreed that the Supreme Election Committee (SEC) would be formed by members of political parties, which was denied by the ruling party (PGC) in the beginning. But the sources said that Mr. Yahia Mutwakil, PGC Assistant Secretary General confirmed that PGC accepted the political parties representation in the SEC on the condition of some regulations to ensure the neutrality of SEC. He said members of SEC should resign from their parties in the SEC, which will ensure its neutrality and prevent the monopoly of any single party. But the opposition to the government has not agreed on the mechanism of this representation, whether it will be based on the number of votes each political party gets in election or not. Furthermore, the two sides have not agreed on the question of military men’s place in voting, and because of the wide gap over this issue the PGC and the opposition decided to postpone the matter without giving a fixed date to resume talks on this issue.
The sources said opposition suggested that military men can vote only in two places, either their birthplace or their permanent place of residence. This suggestion was strongly opposed by PGC and said it aimed at abolishing their voting rights. But opposition said this would abolish the influence of the ruling party to vote for its candidates. The other alternative the opposition suggested was to abolish military men’s rights in voting, as voting for political parties entails a sort of political affiliation which is forbidden among the military. The constitution forbids military people’s affiliation to any political party.