Growing Parliamentary Frustration [Archives:1998/40/Front Page]

October 5 1998

They are angry.
They are frustrated.
Some even are ready to thrown in the towel.
They are Yemen’s parliamentarians – the only officials elected by the people.
Yemen Times ran a 7-question survey. (please refer to the adjacent box). Of 124 forms distributed (the number of members present in the parliament sessions on September 30th, and October 1st), 102 representatives gave their answers.
  The results of the questionnaire do not paint a rosy picture of the relations between the legislative and executive branches of authority. The law-makers have concluded that government executives were acting with impunity, thus reducing the ability of parliament to reign them in. They also concluded the executives simply do not listen to them, and do not care about the role of parliament. They finally said that the impunity of the executive authority casts a dark shadow on the checks and balances of the system, and the meaning of separation of power among the executive, legislative and judicial branches of authority. 
The dwarfed role of parliament masks the near-dictatorial powers of the executive authority. “It renders elections, and the will of the people as meaningless exercises in our democratic rituals,” complained a leading member of parliament, who is also a leading member of the ruling party. 
The frustration cuts across party lines, and has become a general phenomenon. Some of the notable conclusions from the survey are as following: 
– A third of members felt that the first priority in the work of parliament was to please and to go along with the wishes of President Saleh. 
– Another third felt that their supervisory and watchdog role was zero effective. 
– 76% of the members felt their ability to hold corrupt executives accountable is zero or close to zero. 
By: Ismail Al-Ghabry.  The Questionnaire, and the Answers 
1. List the first objective in terms of its importance based on how the speaker and his deputies manage the affairs of parliament: 
– To build and strengthen the legislative authority and process = 45% 
– To please and appease President Ali Abdullah Saleh = 32% 
– To please and appease the government = 18% 
– To please and appease the members of parliament = 5% 
2. Percentage and how parliamentarians assess effectiveness of their supervisory role: 
Zero effectiveness = 32%; 25% = 24%; 50% = 20%; 75% = 8%; 100% = 16% 
3. The President often issues laws by decrees. Is this a means to abort the role of parliament? If yes, measure the degree using 1-100% to indicate your answer: 
Zero degree = 4%; 25% = 36%; 50% = 44%; 75% = 12%; 100% = 4% 
4. Parliament issued a number of reccomendations and instructions to government. 
To what degree has the government abided by those reccomendations? 
Zero abiding = 15%; 25% = 18%; 50% = 18%; 75% = 30%; 100% = 18% 
5. Parliament has issued a report on corruption in government, based on information from the Central Organization for Audit and Control. 
Using 1-100%, show parliament’s ability to hold the corrupt people accountable. 
Zero accountability = 76%; 25% = 12%; 50% = 12%. 
6. To what degree does the executive branch of authority, especially the military and security forces, respect the parliamentarian’s stature and role? 
Zero respect = 4%; 25% = 36%; 50% = 44%; 75% = 16%. 
7. Extent to which excesses of members of parliament themselves weaken their role? 
Zero extent = 24%; 25% = 40%; 50% = 20%; 75% = 16%.