Mr. President, It is Time to Take Action! [Archives:2001/11/Viewpoint]

March 12 2001

The results of the local council elections released by the Supreme Elections Committee signaled a great threat to the ruling party. The trend points to the direction of change in the political structure of the country. Despite the limited participation of the second largest party, the Congressional Party for Reform (Islah) in some districts and provinces, it was able to excel in most of the areas in which it had candidates. The fact that Islah was able to defeat the General People’s Congress (GPC) in Mareb governorate for instance, and come close in other governorates could only lead to the conclusion that the people do want change.
This is such a critical time for the leadership of the GPC, represented by the President of the Republic, who is also the president of the ruling party. He said once and again that as the leader of the GPC, he gives much importance to the continuous success and growth of the GPC. But what happened in Taiz, Ibb, Mareb, and other governorate was quite disappointing for him and for the GPC.
Islah was able to win critical and sensitive districts in major cities, including Taiz, in which it was able to win the district around the presidential complex. Doesn’t this mean something? Doesn’t this reflect the desire of the public for change?
At Yemen Times, we were able to understand that the public has become frustrated with the deteriorating conditions of the economy, security, etc. The government continues to claim that there is great growth in the economy, but the people could only sense more poverty and misery. The public is still asking, “when will we, the people, start to feel the benefits of this economic growth?”
The key point here is that the more the economic and security conditions deteriorate, the less probable it is that GPC will continue its domination, and the more likely that its rivals will compete for power.
Time is passing quickly and we will soon find ourselves in 2003 preparing for the 2nd local council elections and third parliamentary elections. The short timeframe for local councils to launch their projects and develop their regions -while most of the ones who won the seats are yet to figure out what their duties are and where their offices will be- will be the major challenge.
Eventually, the public expects that the local councils will be a means for more corruption, and would provide no services whatsoever, and eventually turn out to be an artificial structure with no tangible effects on their lives. Hence, they will tend to be discouraged in participating in the upcoming elections, or may try to elect the opposition instead of the GPC. This will lead to a major turnaround in the political map. After all, many of the ones who voted for Islah didn’t do so because they supported it, but because they disliked GPC. A repetition of this scenario may lead to an upset for GPC not only at the local council level, but also at the parliamentarian level.
The coming two years may be extremely critical for our country. If the economic conditions are not to improve, if corruption is not to be reduced, and if reforms in all sectors are not to be applied, then we could expect a smaller gap between the two largest parties. This gap could eventually lead to a coalition of some sort. But it surely is not in favor of the GPC or its leadership.
My personal advice to the president is that it is about time for serious action. Yemenis are getting more desperately frustrated by the government, which is a GPC-based government, by the day. Two years is not a long time, but it surely is enough for serious steps to prevent further deterioration of the economy and the conditions of the common Yemeni citizen.
Mr. President,
It is about time action is taken. Time will pass quickly, and you will see that the people will not withstand the economic burdens and pressures and will vote against your party. The local elections have proven that change is possible, and that people can decide to vote for the opposition in the democratic system your excellency decided to adopt. To avoid this, honest and qualified officials must be appointed to the right posts to ensure that the conditions of the Yemeni people will improve as these two years will be the most critical for the GPC and the political map in Yemen. God knows that this is a sincere advice for the sake of our country. The decision of taking this advice is in your hands. But I am afraid that if it is not taken, the ruling party will be the first to suffer.