JMP accuses ruling party of creating crises, cheating democracy [Archives:2008/1184/Local News]

August 25 2008

Mohammed Bin Sallam
SANA'A, Aug. 24 ) Yemeni Socialist Party leader Ali Al-Sarari alleges that the ruling General People's Congress Party is creating numerous obstacles to any serious efforts to develop democracy in Yemen, adding that the party is moving the nation toward totalitarianism.

Speaking by phone, Al-Sarari maintained that the ruling party isn't fulfilling the promises and obligations it signed with its political partners. According to him, the GPC's decision to approve the current Election Law and reject the proposed amendments suggested by the JMP destroys the principles of a multi-party system, harms national unity and helps worsen Yemen's political congestion.

Regarding the release of political prisoners detained for their alleged connections to protests in southern Yemen, the senior YSP leader noted, “The JMP released a statement last Tuesday demanding that such political detainees be released before voting on the Election Law amendments.

“When President [Ali Abdullah] Saleh ordered the relevant government authorities to free political detainees, we maintained that his directives should be executed before forming the Supreme Commission for Elections and Referendum. Regretfully, the ruling party wasn't serious about doing so.”

Last week's JMP statement further accused the GPC of plotting to conduct unfair elections and commit violations and discrepancies during it in order to win the majority of Parliament seats.

According to political observers, a continuing media campaign against JMP leaders and media outlets concerning protests in Yemen's southern governorates is part of an intimidation ploy aimed at ignoring opposition parties' calls for implementing comprehensive political reforms, releasing political detainees and rescuing the nation from its repeated crises and turmoil ahead of the upcoming parliamentary elections.

These observers suspect that such a media campaign, to which the Yemeni Cabinet also is contributing, relates to charges it alleged against the opposition parties at its meeting last Tuesday. The charges came after both sides exchanged accusations about the nation's crises and alleged discrepancies against democracy.

Opposition concerned about rigging in the upcoming election

Member of Parliament Fuad Dihaba, who is affiliated with the Islah Party, said in an interview with the Yemen Times that the opposition parties insist that the current Election Law must be amended in order to ensure free and fair elections.

He added that the proposed amendments include approving the proportional list and women's quota, pointing out that Parliament already approved most of the amendments, but that the ruling party backed out on its commitment. Asked whether the upcoming parliamentary elections will be held as scheduled or not, Dihaba responded, “The ball is in the ruling party's court,” meaning that it depends on the GPC, which controls the nation's affairs.

The crisis between the JMP and the GPC has become sharper after the former declared its rejection of the latter's decisions regarding the Election Law and SCER composition, accusing it of violating the rules of political action and attempting to eliminate opposition from politics, as well as compel it to boycott the upcoming elections, scheduled for April 2009.

The Yemeni Parliament's decision to annul the proposed Election Law amendments and approve the previous version of the law has caused unprecedented controversy and disagreement between Yemen's political parties.

In a statement, opposition parties said that steps taken by the GPC reflect its objection to conducting free and fair elections, adding that eliminating the opposition from SCER membership reflects the GPC's desire to establish a totalitarian regime in Yemen.

The statement further read, “In behaving this way, the ruling party is destroying all of the glorious achievements achieved by the Yemeni Revolution and reunification, in addition to harming democratic principles and abusing human rights.”

According to the statement, opposition parties accept the proposed Election Law amendments because they care about national interests and conducting free and fair elections on the specified date. Further, the statement indicated that GPC-affiliated MPs violated the rules and principles governing work in Parliament. Opposition parties lashed out at the GPC for attempting to retain an illegitimate SCER structure, which expired last November.

They also accused the current Yemeni government of exploiting the issue of political detainees jailed for peaceful protest in the southern governorates as a trump card in an effort to pressure them, revealing that the ruling party indicated a desire to release the detainees in exchange for opposition parties' agreement to keep the previous Election Law and annul the proposed amendments.

The JMP affirms that peaceful democratic means are the only way to rescue Yemen from its repeated crises, adding that making a deal with the ruling party to release political detainees is a criminal act because it violates the most basic human and national values.