GPC and JMP agree on amending Election LawPolitical detainees top list of unresolved issues [Archives:2008/1179/Local News]

August 7 2008

SANA'A, Aug. 5 ) Despite an announced agreement between the ruling General People's Congress and the Joint Meeting Parties on a government project to amend the Election Law presented to Parliament last week, the JMP-affiliated Socialist Party boycotted Tuesday's Parliament sessions dedicated to discussing the amendments.

Further, the Socialist Party has determined to boycott all such parliamentary sessions until all political detainees are released and the situation in the southern governorates is resolved.

Member of Parliament Mohammed Saleh Al-Qubati, head of the Socialist parliamentary bloc and JMP spokesman, said, “It's unreasonable to move forward regarding the elections without releasing these political detainees because this issue relates to all agreements and dialogue issues involving the ruling party.”

He continued, “Other unresolved issues remain under discussion, including the 'relative list' and women's representation in Parliament, as well as the mechanism of casting votes in the Supreme Commission for Elections and Referendum.”

He pointed out that the Joint Meeting Parties demand that “voting within the [SCER] should be based on agreement and a majority on issues such as declaring election results and legislation.”

Al-Qubati further affirmed that they agree with the GPC to form the election commission from political parties, not judges, noting that choosing committee members will be the last point of discussion with the GPC in their bilateral meetings.

JMP and GPC sources confirm that the two sides reached an agreement on amending the Election Law after opposition parties previously threatened to boycott the upcoming April 2009 parliamentary elections if they don't reach an agreement with the ruling party.

“GPC and JMP leaders agreed on the Election Law amendment suggested by the government,” reported Tariq Al-Shami, head of the GPC's media circle, noting that the amendments include 30 articles and that there is “no disagreement in this regard between the two sides.”

The agreement between the JMP and the ruling party regarding the Election Law and the SCER stipulates that the JMP will have four members, including the head of the commission, while the GPC will have five members, according to a source wishing to remain anonymous.

The same source pointed out that the amendment project includes widening the scope of court appeals and promoting guarantees of impartiality in public works, finance and official media during election campaigns.

Further, he said the amendments include enhancing the current terms, which affirms the SCER's independence and impartiality, and organizing election security, in addition to specifying a mechanism to form security committees as a responsibility of the SCER. However, JMP Supreme Council Chairman Abdulwahab Al-Anisi denies any dialog between the JMP and the ruling GPC, pointing out that what's occurring is only “communication, not dialogue” because dialogue involves certain conditions differentiating “dialogue” from “communication.” “The failure of dialogue between the JMP and the GPC is a result of the derogatory manner in which the GPC treats such dialogue, as well as its lack of commitment to the results of such dialogue,” Al-Anisi concluded.