If I am Mr. President [Archives:2008/1148/Opinion]
Undoubtedly, President Ali Abdullah faced great threats and challenges during his 30 years in service, but numerous factors helped the leader overcome such threats and obstacles. These factors include his shrewdness, weakness and fragility of his opponents and the external relative satisfaction with his performance.
The situation changed after thirty years now, as Mr. President's shrewdness has changed into arrogance, his opponents become stronger, and the foreign players turned to actually fear that the current performance of the regime may take the country into comprehensive collapse, shake international stability and create a new haven for terrorism.
If I am President Saleh, I will not quit power amid such circumstances because doing so will be interpreted or judged by others as “escapism”. But, I will not accept my name being highlighted in the books of history such as Sayyad Berri, thereby labeling me as the man who divided Yemen instead of naming me as its “Uniter”. In order to protect my reputation, maintain my history glorious and perform my duties and responsibilities, I will do the following:
First, I will resign my post in the General People Congress (GPC) (which is the ruling party in Yemen) and retain my post as President of the Republic and Higher Commander of the Armed Forces. Second, I will call for early parliamentary elections, which is due to be preceded by forming a neutral Supreme Commission for Elections and Referendum (SCER) to be accepted by the opposition. I will work more credibly, be neutral in the elections, and will not allow any exploitation of public funds or official media in favor of any political party or candidate.
Third, after the election is over, I will authorize the winning party or the group of parties that won the majority of seats to form a new cabinet. I will not intervene in selecting the prime minister or the cabinet ministers because I want the winners in the election to be in charge of such tasks. In case the winners succeed in this task, this means we rescued our country together. But, if they fail, I will be no longer responsible for their failure.
Fourth, I will ask the selected prime minister to allocate a specific budget for the Presidential Palace, which must not be exceeded. I will stop distributing gifts to loyal officials because when I give a gift to somebody, I will lose ten people. By such a decision, I will win support and loyalty of all Yemeni people. I will stop buying new cars, which I then distribute to loyal statesmen because such cars waste the Presidential Palace's budget and harm my reputation in the eyes of people.
Fifth, I will cease distributing plots of land to influential individuals because I once remembered that I am not Muawya Bin Abu Sufyan or Harun Al-Rashid, but a constitutional president in the 21st Century. I have to understand well that there are certain institutions in charge of overseeing resources and fairly distributing them in a way serving all the Yemeni people, not certain individuals.
Sixth, I will allow the government to freely deal with all what concerns the Yemeni people and affects their livings, while Parliament has to question the government over its mistakes, if any, and put corrupt officials on trial. I will not stop overseeing the armed forces because they constitute the only guarantee for my survival and personal safety, as I still fear that some opportunists may plan to prosecute me over my mistakes of the past.
Seventh, I will request the tribal sheikhs countrywide to exempt me from the gifts I used to give them in the past, while they are entitled to nominate themselves in the local councils and Parliament if they want to practice legal powers. They will be held accountable for any mistakes they may commit without my personal intervention in their cases.
Eighth, I will ask the government to freely prosecute any officials or powerful individuals attempting to abuse investors, even if they are my relatives. Foreign investors fled the country as a result of the wrong practices by influential persons, thereby depriving idle youth of getting jobs in such productive projects.
Ninth, I will allow the new government to freely design a new constitution, based on a public referendum, to be applied upon completion of my reign. I will never attempt to contravene the constitution by running for president once again. I will leave the door open for all the Yemeni people to compete for the highest political post in the country and enhance the peaceful transfer of power. I will congratulate the winner in the election to succeed me.
Tenth, I will be the first Yemeni president to hand over the Presidential Palace to his successor at a huge ceremony. I will leave this palace peacefully, return to my modest house and read the following day's newspapers. I can walk in the various streets of Sana'a and Aden peacefully with a few bodyguards including Aziz Melfi and my brother's son Tareq (both are currently the top bodyguards of President Saleh). I will then start writing my diaries revealing the invisible facts related with Yemen's history via the help of my friend Abdu Bawreji (Currently the top journalist of President Saleh).