Effective mechanism to settle disagreement between ruling party and JMP [Archives:2008/1205/Opinion]

November 6 2008

By: Abdulaziz Al-Hayajim
“The door to dialogue with the Joint Meeting Parties (JMP) will remain open until Election Day.” This statement is of great importance and reflects a strong sense of national responsibility. It came as part of a press conversation, which the UAE Al-Bayan daily conducted with Yemeni Minister of Foreign Affairs Abu Bakr Al-Qirbi.

The conversation reflected the political leadership's vision on preparations for the upcoming parliamentary elections, which are accompanied by sincere efforts to convince JMP members to rescind a decision they took to boycott the upcoming elections and practice their democratic right.

Undoubtedly, any observer who closely follows developments on Yemen's political ground will surely realize the crucial significance of a procedure taken by President Ali Abdullah Saleh to overcome such unsolved discrepancy. Saleh mandated his political advisor Abdulkarim Al-Eryani to communicate with JMP leaders and make suggestions in order to reach a compromise in this regard.

Saleh's move reflects how careful the political leadership is in its attempts to overcome any discrepancies or differences between political parties and organizations in Yemen and how important it is for all these parties to participate in the upcoming electoral process.

We don't hope that a particular political party boycotts the upcoming elections. We are optimistic about the possibility of suggesting workable solutions to the current crisis so that all the political parties can practice their democratic rights in a fair, free and competitive election.

As far as I am concerned, via their announced positions, the JMP member parties may be in the matrix of endeavors and deals that may ensure them notable success and more seats in the upcoming electoral process. However, it goes without saying that these parties should be more careful to participate in the upcoming parliamentary elections, scheduled for April 2009.

A golden opportunity for JMP

This is not speculation. There are numerous justifications that make us accept the assumption that the ruling party may be less enthusiastic than JMP member parties about the upcoming parliamentary election being held on its constitutionally determined date. The opposition parties have before them a golden opportunity if they exploit their available means to attract voters to their side. They can exploit the current poor living standards, poverty, unemployment and corruption – negative phenomena which one can not deny – in favor of their candidates.

I don't agree with those who believe that the vote result is already decided in advance in favor of the ruling party that allegedly uses the state's facilities, power and public funds to attract voters to its side. This may be beneficial in rare cases but it is not substantial evidence to explain the ruling party winning the elections. In the past electoral processes, the ruling party dealt with its candidates equally, and eventually, only those who had supporters on the ground could win the seats of their constituencies.

An important question, which the JMP member parties should answer, is: Which is more difficult for these parties: to compete with a 30-year serving president in a presidential election or to compete with ruling party candidates in 301 constituencies?

Consequently, JMP parties, which won nearly one-fourth of the total vote in the most recent presidential and local council elections in September 2006, have a golden opportunity before them to win more votes and get further representation in Parliament, but on the condition that they exploit this opportunity in an ideal manner.

We are discussing an important democratic right that goes to the advantage of the nation and serves the collective interests of all the political parties in Yemen. Therefore, the political parties should practice this right positively and responsibly. As long as the political leadership continues to make wise decisions and cares that compromise and understanding be the only effective solution to the crisis, JMP member parties should demonstrate take a responsible position about the upcoming parliamentary elections.

Source: Al-Thawra state-run daily