High hopes in that the new parliament will get things goingArms law to be debated again [Archives:2003/639/Local News]

June 5 2003

Mohammed Al-Qadhi

The new government approved 11 draft laws which the last parliament did not debate and endorse. The government said in its last Tuesday routine meeting that these draft laws should be the priority of the parliament. Among these draft laws is the arms control law. The last government failed to convince the parliament of a six-year tenure to endorse the law to regulate arms possession. The bill has been stuck in the last parliament ever since as the parliament's term ended without endorsing the law. This is why it was shifted to be a main issue waiting the new parliament.
Sheikh Abdullah bin Hussein al-Ahmar, Speaker and leader of Hashid Tribe and Islah party as well, won the battle with other tribal figures against the government last time. MP Sultan al-Barakani, head of General People's Congress (GPC) caucus in the parliament said earlier that there are some figures who do not want the law to see the light of day. He pointed out that the law will be the business of the new parliament. On his part, MP and Minister of Civil Service and Social Securities, Hamoud Khalid al-Sufi, told Yemen Times that the reform package Yemen is implementing entails that there should be more emphasis on the laws related to this reform, mainly the Arms Control law. He pointed out that the law should be a common denominator between all political forces. He stressed that it is not in favor of any party to delay the issuance of such an important law. “It is a national concern as it is related to different important aspects of the life of the people. It is important to have a good environment for investment” he said. Mr. Al-Sufi said that it is necessary to pass this law now at a time in which some are trying to show the country as a haven for terrorists. The issuance of this law will nullify such allegations. He concluded that the culture of arms carrying should wither away in a society, where people are looking for modernization and an institutionalized, peaceful and secure society.
The question of arms possession in Yemen has become a major headache for the government which believes that there must be a law to regulate and control this issue as arms have been a main source of violence and terrorism. The government feels that it should take part in a massive campaign against the illegal carrying of arms, especially as this will limit the facilities terrorist elements will get. It also feels that this issue is one of the main reasons that curb its efforts to achieve security and stability as well as development and this is why it should be one of its priorities. The president himself had said on many occasions that he is against the carrying of weapons in cities and will work on controlling carrying of arms throughout the country. Arms possession and carrying is perceived by many Yemenis from tribal backgrounds as a sign of manhood and part of Yemeni culture. But today, weapons have become a means kidnapping, theft, and all sorts of crimes. The possession of firearms in some remote tribal areas has made it difficult for the government to control these areas that include Marib, Al-Jawf , Saddah and Shabwa. Weapons made it possible for terrorists to carry out their terrorist operations even near the airport of Sana'a as some terrorists fired some time ago at the Hunt oil company's plane and committed similar operations.
However, whether the new government will win the battle this time against the tribal figures in the parliament is still in question.