JMP: Election is a good approach to resolve crises [Archives:2008/1187/Front Page]

September 4 2008

By: Mohammed Bin Sallam
SANA'A, Sept. 9 ) Joint Meeting Parties (JMP), the major opposition coalition in Yemen, have stressed their stance toward the upcoming parliamentary election, labeling it as “a good approach to settle current crises in the country and not a as tool to expand them or let them worsen.”

On Monday in a letter addressed to President Ali Abdullah Saleh, the JMP explained that elections, from its viewpoint, are not the same as a committee imposed on others by the ruling majority, implying how the ruling party formed the Supreme Commission for Elections and Referendum (SCER) from its staff exclusively.

The opposition parties added that the elections represent a fair electoral system that preserves rights of minorities as well as the majority as well. The JMP reiterated that election management must be respected by both the ruling and opposition parties.

JMP leaders noted that Constitution of the Republic of Yemen and the relevant laws stipulate that the various procedures of the election must be undertaken properly without any violations or discrepancies. They continued that the constitution bans exploitation of public funds, official media, government posts, or any security or military institutions in favor of a particular party.

According to opposition leaders, the constitution stipulates a political climate based on respecting citizens' rights, with political and popular organizations to present their programs and express their positions through all the legally ensured means and methods. “Effective popular participation in the election is the safe means to help rescue the nation from its dire situation,” these leaders stated.

Exchange of accusations between ruling and opposition parties

The JMP's letter to President Saleh reads, “Your letter (Saleh's letter to JMP) contained a frank charge against the JMP. It accused the opposition coalition of plotting to hinder the upcoming parliamentary election. Meanwhile, you know that our interest is on behalf of the national interest, which requires conducting free and fair elections.”

“Without elections, political parities and the multi-party system will be meaningless. Only the ruling party that have an interest associated with hindering the election, particularly as it has wasted time since the dialogue between it and the JMP began on March 19, 2007,” the letter adds.

In its letter, the JMP Higher Council proposed solutions to what it called “Yemen's current crisis” claiming an immediate release of political prisoners, as well as opinion prisoners in all Yemeni governorates. “Through positive interaction, the ruling and opposition parties can examine pressing problems in the country and suggest workable solutions to them,” JMP leaders said in the letter.

JMP blames government for instigating army against its members

The JMP Higher Council holds the government accountable for the negative consequences associated with instigating security and military personnel against JMP member parties. It emphasized the necessity of having neutral military and security institutions in Yemen amid political competition between parties. It warned against involving these institutions and their staff in political contests, saying that the government must improve living conditions of military and security personnel so that they can perform well.

The council also warned against exploiting military and security institutions in favor of a particular party or organization, adding that such institutions should be based on national principles, and their staff should be promoted according to the law.

The Chairman of JMP Higher Council, Abdul-Wahab Al-Anisi, affirmed that the opposition would go on struggling until its demands are met, insisting that the government must release all political prisoners, end tensions and create political environment in which constitutional and legal rights are respected.

JMP confirmed that it had clear opposition to the Sa'ada fighting by saying that such conflicts must be resolved through peaceful dialogues, not by further conflicts. “We claimed that the problem must be resolved according to the Constitution,” their statement said.

With regard to popular protests in southern Yemen, JMP determined a frank position about what is occurring there. It said that political congestion in the southern governorates was symptomatic of the government's poor policies and arbitrary practices against citizens.

Ruling party reacts to JMP statements

The ruling General People Congress (GPC) accused opposition parties of instigation secession and fragmentation of the nation.

The Head of GPC Media Sector, Tariq Al-Shami, said during a news conference in Sana'a, “Regretfully, JMP foments fragmentation, violence and secession in the southern governorates.”

He added, “In many countries, Muslim brothers are either detained in jails or exiled abroad. But in Yemen, they practice their democratic rights and the government cares about effective participation of all the social groups in politics.”

Al-Shami called all JMP member parties to participate in the upcoming parliamentary election, due to take place on April 27, 2009. “Under no circumstance may the election's date change,” he said.