Calls for addressing urgency of practical reforms steps needed:Liberal Initiative for reform unveiled [Archives:2004/735/Front Page]

May 6 2004

Mohammed Al-Qadhi
A number of political parties, intellectuals and politicians have stressed in a statement presented last week the urgency and need for substantial and serious reforms to address the real problems Yemen is going through. These people warned against the collapse of the system if the government does not address these problems in transparent and open way that enable all the political forces contribute to finding a way out from the impasse. However, the ruling party and government were annoyed by such calls, considering people behind them as “secessionists” describing them as a mob. Prime Minister Abdulqader Bajamal accused the opposition's call for a political reform project of being selfish, considering the unification as the biggest project of reform in Yemen. He challenged that he would disclose the reality of terrorism in Yemen and people standing behind it, in a potential hint towards Islah. He shrugged his shoulders when talking to the 26 September weekly of the achievements of his government, dismissing the charges of the opposition for his government of being corrupt, mainly after the disclosure of the oil deal which was considered by MPs a scandal of sheer corruption.

State media criticizes Islah
The ruling party media has been ruthlessly criticizing the Islah party and the Yemeni Socialist Party (YSP) because of their efforts to stop the deal by the parliament and because of their increasing demands for reforms.

Liberal initiative
Some intellectuals came up last this week with a “Liberal Initiative” for comprehensive reform so as to rescue the country from collapse. They demanded the political regime to deal with their “initiative very seriously and not only for the sake of decorating and beautifying its image abroad.” The initiative said that the reforms target politics, economics, human rights, culture, education and media. It demanded that the tenure of presidential office should be decreased to 4 years while the parliamentary to 5 only to enlarge political participation. It also demanded the “stopping of the rule succession steps under way and process of distribution of military and government positions based on family relationship, nepotism, favoritism and tribal or sectarian factors and political favoritism.”

Reform steps identified
The opposition also said that the leadership of the military and judiciary should be taken from the person of the president, the consultative council and PSO should be abolished, women's presence in the parliament should be increased, amendments in the law of local authority should be conducted to nominate governors and districts directors.
The initiative also demanded that that budget of the ministry of defense should be cut short, withdrawing the military camps from cities, abolishing the law of protests and private prisons, press and publication prosecution, allowing the electronic media to emerge, and guaranteeing the freedom of faith and the rights of women and children.
In the field of media, the initiative stressed on the importance of allowing electronic media ownership, the need to improve the situation of information technology, mainly the internet by ending censorship and abolishing the ministry of information. The initiative also contained some suggestions and demands to carry out economic and educational reforms.

Foreigners supportive
Several foreigners acquainted with Yemen supported the initiative and expressed concern over the deterioration of the living standards of the people dramatically where the middle class has shrank to a great extent. Some told Yemen Times that reforms should be addressed urgently to avoid a sad ending. However, the government and the ruling party believe such a talk is a sort of hallucination and that things are going in the right direction and that Yemen is doing well. The people concerned believe too that the unconcern of the people in charge about the urgency of reforms is in itself the main dilemma.