Government expresses commitment to ban firearms in main cities [Archives:2002/07/Front Page]

February 11 2002

In a draft law, the Yemeni cabinet banned firearms in the capital and main cities, as well as the government offices in main cities and religious places, Tuesday.
The cabinet authorized the Ministry of Interior to exercise all measures to enact this decision. The government urged parliament to prioritize its debate on the issue as soon as possible. The draft law that was presented to parliament, is being crippled by influential tribal sheikhs in the parliament who oppose the idea of disarming the people or putting an end to the spread of firearms in the main cities. The government implicitly condemned a recent attack against the Minister of Agriculture, Mr. Ahmed Al-Jabali, who was beaten by a tribal Sheikh called Abdul Qawi Al-Shuwae.
The cabinet called for stiff punishment against those who dont abide by the law, and those who perpetrated terrorist and lawless acts against citizens and government officials. Political observers have doubted the governments seriousness and ability to put an end to the possession of firearms, even in the main cities or its ability to pressure the parliament to swiftly debate the draft law that organizes the carrying of firearms and firearms ownership.
The government has excluded the security scouts of government officials. This and the issuance of licenses to particular persons to carry firearms, even in the capital, is the main shortcoming that people exploit to obtain this license.
Government efforts to this end have failed previously because of the license that has been granted to everybody. The governments campaign to stop the flow of armed tribesmen to the main cities has also failed, as it is occasional.
Several high-ranking officials and tribal shiekhs at the power center have expressed dissatisfaction with such seasonal measures.
They still hold the opinion that firearms are a symbol of tribal dignity and manliness. Observers believe this attitude of carrying weapons can be blamed on the absence of security.
The country has been embroiled into the tumult of tribal revenge and other sorts of disputes, something, which boosted the zest for obtaining the weapons for personal protection.
On the other hand, religious preachers have previously told people that they should be armed so that the government or political regimes cannot force non-Islamic laws into their lives.
They have claimed that armed people can defend their religion better than the ones without arms. These elements have encouraged flooding the country with weapons of different colors and hues.
It is estimated that there are almost 60 million pieces of weapons in the hands of the civilian population, yet no serious steps could be taken by the government to rid the country of this negative phenomenon.