Election campaigning begins, presidential programs unveiled [Archives:2006/975/Front Page]

August 24 2006

By: Yasser Al-Mayasi
SANA'A, Aug. 24 ) Campaigns for presidential and local elections began yesterday and will continue until the Sept. 20 election.

Most observers believe Yemen's presidential election will dominate and leave nothing for local elections. The practicality of this year's presidential election lies in the fact that it's the first one wherein real competition exists.

The Joint Meeting Parties (JMP) will inaugurate their campaign by holding a festival for their candidate, Faisal Bin Shamlan, at Al-Thawra Stadium today. Launched in Sana'a, such festivals will be followed by others across the republic.

Although yesterday was the official date to begin campaigning, electoral campaigns actually began weeks ago as candidates began planning their campaigns and spreading their electoral programs.

President Ali Abdullah Saleh's electoral program, entitled, “A new Yemen a better future,” focuses on creating a new administration to serve citizens and enhance state institutions, thereby leading to a reformed and modernized government administration. Additionally, it seeks to increase wages, salaries and premiums for all state employees and reinforce transparency in all government transactions and procedures.

The program also concentrates on eradicating unemployment, alleviating poverty, expanding social security's web and creating developed infrastructure for a strong national economy. It further proposes increasing electrical power generation, extending coverage and encouraging private sector investment in it, as well as extending and developing telecommunication services.

Saleh's program highlights the importance of following new economic and balanced financial policies, including reducing taxes, improving collection mechanisms – particularly income taxes, optimally exploiting fish wealth, developing mining industries and activating the tourism sector. Additionally, it emphasizes having a proper environmental and water policy.

Regarding corruption, Saleh's program focuses on combating administrative and financial corruption by developing mechanisms and policies to combat corruption, as well as punish corrupt officers. The program also affirms the importance of having an appealing investment environment, in addition to encouraging qualitative education focusing on vocational and technical education, eradicating illiteracy, concentrating more on health, improving children's conditions, women's participation in the society and enhancing Yemen's defense and security capabilities.

The program of Bin Shamlan, opposition candidate and Saleh's strongest rival, gives priority to political reform as to constitutionally organizing state authorities to ensure establishing a democratic and multiparty political system. It also emphasizes separating authorities and reforming judicial authority, as well as reforming and developing the local governance system.

Other important points in Bin Shamlan's program include reforming the administrative system, combating corruption and reforming economic policies by working to stop increasing prices, reconsidering economic reform programs and making the state carry the greater burden under such reform programs, not citizens.

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His program further reaffirms the importance of rearranging priorities, concentrating more on growing and developing promising economic sectors and creating real partnership between the state and the private sector. It also reiterates the importance of creating a suitable investment environment, supporting savings, creating a reasonable administration for public funds and redistributing financial resources justly and fairly.

Bin Shamlan's program gives more attention to Yemen's electricity and water crisis and adopting many ways to address their shortage. It also deals with education, suggesting various methods to reform it, such as increasing the education budget to 25 percent of GDP (gross domestic product). It further assures the importance of maintaining Yemen's Arab and Islamic identity, encouraging girls to receive their educational and employment rights and spreading computer literacy.

Regarding health services, Bin Shamlan's program seeks to improve and develop such services by paying more attention to the demands of all social groups and collaborating with legislative authority, local councils and civil society organizations.

Additionally, his program focuses on caring for security, the armed forces, children, farmers, fishermen, students, teachers, doctors and other occupations. It also emphasizes implementing serious measures and policies aimed at improving Yemen's investment environment. Bin Shamlan's program also mentions foreign policy.

Other candidates are preparing to organize festivals and spread their electoral programs in upcoming days.

Al-Magidi, Al-Azab and Said begin campaigning around the republic

On another front, independent presidential candidate Ahmed Abdullah Al-Magidi began his first campaign events in Al-Mahara governorate, where he was governor before 1990 unification. He's campaigning under the slogan, “For the nation, not for the political parties.”

Al-Magidi told media that his program focuses on corruption and problems citizens suffer, as well as the nation's infrastructure. He also stated that he'll focus on the historical achievement of Yemeni unification, as well as rectifying problems regarding that issue.

Simultaneously, Fathi Al-Azab, the second independent candidate, began his first campaign events today in Amran, where he expects to have strong popularity.

Opposition National Council candidate Yasin Abd Said, who also is recommended by the General People's Congress (GPC), began campaigning today in Sana'a. However, as he didn't receive much response, he's planning to begin again in Taiz on Monday.