Election results show a huge gap between ruling party and opposition:rnGPC dominates… [Archives:2003/633/Front Page]

April 27 2003

Mohammed Al-Qadhi
SANAA, April 28 (updated)- The SCER declared the results of 280 election centers for 280 parliamentary seats. According to the declaration issued on Wednesday April 30, the distribution of seats won by the different parties is as follows:
rn- GPC 214
rn- Islah 41
rn- YSP 7
rn- Nasserite Party 2
rn- Baath Socialist Party 2
rn- Independents 14
rnAmong the 280 seats, only one female winner, Dr. Oras Sultan Naji from Aden City, was reported, and all the rest were men. The official turnout was around 76% with a total number of voters of 5,726,175 among 8,097,000 registered voters. 182,505 votes were not counted due to invalid entries.
rnThe 21 seats that were not determined are disputed for a number of reasons, mainly because of irregularities, violence, fraud, etc. The Joint Opposition Meeting said today that if the issues concerning the remaining centers are not tackled adequately, it could withdraw from the parliament and leave its seats to the GPC.
rnThis is in contrast to initial results that came on the first day after elections that suggested a significant increase in the number of seats to be won by the opposition parties compared to the elections in 1997.
With such a comfortable majority in the parliament, the GPC can indeed set the government on its own.
Concerning violence, the Supreme Commission for Elections and Referendum (SCER) had announced 14 casualties because of violence throughout the country. One person was reported dead and others injured in the governorate of Amran's polling center (283), however, the SCER had denied this report. The other reported incidents were as follows: five injuries in Dhamar's centers (203) and (205), two in Hajja's center (246), one in Ibb's center (114), and one in Mareb's center (278).
On the other hand, there were reports of some angry voters in Sharaab district in the governorate of Taiz damaged and set fire to a number of ballot boxes in center (36) and (37) because of insecurity and due to claimed of attempted fraud.
This comes after millions of people took to the polling centers yesterday to vote for their representatives in the next parliament made up of 301 seats. There were 1,396 nominees, 405 independents and 11 women, competing to win the election which is the third of its kind since the Yemeni unification in May 1990. Participation was reported at more than 75% as voters were seen flowing to the voting centers since the early morning and showed great interest in taking part in it. Voting was extended until 8 last night to give chance for all voters to participate. The election was run amid heated competition between the ruling party and opposition, mainly Islah, Socialist and Nasserite.
According to law, the SCER has to announce the results of the election within 72 hours after completion of voting. Various violations were reported by political parties, mainly the opposition. A ballot box was snatched for two hours in al-Jawaf, according to the election committee, it was then returned and then voting was continued. Voting also was suspended in some voting centers like in the constituency 37 where centers were suspended and opposition complained that some of their activists were arrested. It is expected that election would be called off in some constituencies. Mr. Abdulmalik al-MIkhlafi, Secretary General of Nasserite party told Yemen Times that the ruling party has violated the code of agreement between all the political parties to ensure a peaceful, free and non-violent election. He said that the ruling party used all sorts of violence against opposition nominees. He said that a violent counterfeiting has been committed in some areas. Mikhlafi also said that the opposition will file a case against such violations and demand that election should be done again in such constituencies.
The election committee tried to belittle such violent incidents and said they were normal in a democracy and showed that people were much interested in the process. But the opposition accused the committee of being biased and working in favor of the ruling party.
President Ali Saleh denied in a press conference after voting yesterday that his party has used the power and budget of the state for its interest. Rather he said, he gave the opposition parties over YR 400 million to help them run their electoral propaganda. He also denied that the ruling party has used the military to vote for his party's candidates. However, he praised the achievements of his party and said that it has saved Yemen after the September 11 incidents, Cole bombing and in other events and he wished it won the majority in the election. He added that he did not want a result of 99%. The opposition, however, criticized this statement of the president and said it aimed to make a propaganda for his party. A statement issued by the opposition described it an illegal act.
The GPC has announced that it aims to win a majority that enables it to set up a government without the need for a coalition, but president Saleh said Saturday that any party which will win in election will form a government. However, he did not dismiss the idea that his party will join a coalition government with any other party and expected that over 70% of the eligible voters would participate in the election.
Political observers speculate that the ruling party will get around 170 of the seats and that the opposition will score 40% of them. Political analyst Sami Ghalib told Yemen Times that Islah might make a surprise if the elections run smoothly not because the people like it but they want to teach the ruling party a hard lesson owing to its wrong policies.
He warned against any violence and threatened that all people and parties which will violate the law will be held accountable. Islah, and other opposition parties, however, said they aimed to win the election and set up a government. Mohammed al-Yadoumi, Islah Secretary General said Saturday that his party will refuse any coalition government with any party that will not admit Islah's platform. It promised to raise the wages of the public civil and military workers, stop corruption, encourage investments and stop the lifting of subsidies on foodstuff. It also pledged that the Yemeni-US relationship will be better than its current situation.
What characterized this election is coalition of the opposition parties, mainly Islah, Socialist and Nasserite. These parties and others agreed to nominate one candidate for them in over 100 constituencies which has represented a threat to the ruling party. This raised the competition between the two sides and the fear of possible violence.
Islah and other opposition parties said that the ruling party would forge election, making use of state power, influencing military and exercising pressure on people to vote for its candidates. The Nasserite party announced Saturday evening that the security director of Al-Mansuryah district arrested five of its and opposition members. The GPC, however, accused the opposition and mainly Islah of extremism and terrorism as well as corruption; it even said that Islah is the “Taliban of Yemen”, trying to establish a Taliban state in Yemen.
Political observer expected that GPC would win just over half of the seats and then comes Islah, the Socialist and other parties. However, they also expected a good progress for the opposition if they adhere to their coalition till the end.
This heated competition which is the first of its kind led to some violence in some areas. The SCER suspended earlier election at 281 after an armed confrontation between the scouts of governor of Amran and those of the elder son of Sheikh Abdullah al-Ahmar, Sadiq who is the candidate of Islah in that constituency. However election process was eventually allowed to continue.