Centralization is rooted in  the draft law presented to the Parliament [Archives:1999/42/Focus]

October 18 1999

Yahya Abu Usbaa
Member of Parliament
What I would like to highlight first is in regard to the proposed amendment to the local governance which is being discussed in the parliament. It relates to transferring the local administration to local authority. Secondly, what we are discussing right now is no more than a means which would increase the problems that we are currently suffering from. It is also a maneuver to establish places without any authorities, in so far as the local councils are vested with no powers at all. Centralization is rooted in the draft law presented to the Parliament to the extent that nomination of the governors and district directors will be made by the ruling party. In other words, the Central Authority will nominate the chairman of the administration unit who is at the same time the chairman of the local council. Hence, the elected local council will be chaired and led by the chairman appointed by the center.
On the other hand, all the authorities are concentrated in the hands of the appointed chairman. In regard to the articles mentioned in the law, the elected secretary-general in local councils is nothing more than a writer and a subordinate executive of the elected chairman of the council. The draft law currently discussed in the Parliament completely violates the form as well as the content of the constitution. Article No (143) of the constitution states that “the Republic is to be divided to different administration units. It also defines the procedure of nomination, election and selection of its directors. The law also defines the scientific standards that these units are based upon.” This is the article that defines the scope of nomination of the chairman of the administration unit as the governor or the district directors. However, the article stipulates that the nomination will be made through elections. The word “selection” has been exploited by the government, that is, to select the governor or the director from a three members elected by the local councils. Besides, article No 144 of the constitution clearly states “to have free, direct, secretive and equal elections.” This means that chairmen of local councils are to be elected. However, the draft law, presented to the parliament, has ignored all this by deciding that it is not proper to take the risk of electing the governor or the directors. This is so especially under the current circumstances of the country which might lead to anticipated harmful results negatively affecting the unification and leading to the divisions of the country. The ruling party wants to say that the Yemenis are still too naive to create and shape their future. In fact, they want to play the role of the guardian who is not willing to renounce the elements of control.
By presenting such a draft law, the administration wants to get back what it was compelled to give as a result of the necessary requirements for building the modern country in which the local authority is the main cornerstone. The ruling power has superficially adhered to the law by legitimizing the elections of local councils. However, it assures itself of the full benefits in the form of retention of the right to appoint the governors as well as district directors who have full power.
What is strange in the centralization of power is that on one hand it trusts the people in electing the president and the members of the parliament. However, they withdraw such a trust in defining the procedure to elect official in this administrative unit, district directors and governors, on the other. The draft law presented is thus another disaster that is imminent. It is also a new frankenstein that is going to undermine the budget. It is also a violation of rights as well as authorities preserved by the constitution.