Minister of Local Administration calls on Yemenis to help governors’ elections succeed [Archives:2008/1152/Front Page]

May 5 2008

Nadia Al-Sakkaf
SANA'A, May 4 ) In an interview with the Yemen Times, Abdul Qader Hilal, Minister of Local Administration, called on Yemenis, international activists and non-governmental organizations to participate in the first governors' elections in Yemen, scheduled to take place on May 7, 2008. He said that all could contribute in different ways, through monitoring the procedures, being involved in the process or simply spreading awareness.

He commented that although opposition parties' representatives in the local councils have announced their will to boycott the elections, they are still welcome if they change their minds.

“It doesn't make sense to boycott something that will eventually have implications on you. If they have comments, we are more than happy to discuss them, but we have to sit around the same table first,” he said.

He commented that around 13 percent of the local council members belong to opposition parties, and this low percentage was a direct result of their local council campaign strategies in 2006.

Hilal emphasized that this is the first experience of its kind for Yemen, and he acknowledged that there would be mistakes. The point, he says, is to participate and learn from the mistakes.

According to Hilal, there will be constitutional and legal amendments soon that will change the way local administrations operate, giving more authority to governors and local councils and encouraging decentralization in Yemen.

As for women's participation, he insisted that the quota system could well be the only way to increase women's participation in the political sphere, ensuring that women will have a 15 percent share in the local councils, although the mechanism and the implementation of how this will be achieved is yet to be finalized in participation with civil society organizations.

Hilal said the elections could be a way to settle the tension in some areas around the republic because people will see that someone they indirectly elected is representing them. He stressed that the success of this experience depends largely on the attitudes and characters of the first batch of elected governors. Hilal also promised that his ministry would organize a training event for the elected governors to empower them and assist them in prioritizing each governorate's needs in the local plans and budgets.

“After all, we want to have qualified governors and create a strong decentralized system where the local administrations are able to take care of the local people's needs and serve them without needing to refer to the central authority,” he said.

See full interview on Report page