Nasserite Unionist Party [Archives:1999/05/Law & Diplomacy]
Political Parties Series: #2
Starting with the last issue, the Yemen Times continues to run profiles of the political parties of Yemen.
We print the information as received from the parties.
The aim is to inform the public
– local and international.
The People’s Nasserite Unionist party was founded in Taiz in December, 1965 as an expression of the aspirations and ambitions of the forces of modernization which began formation in Yemen following the 26th September Revolution.
Ever since its formation, the party included representatives of various social strata that were newly rising including intellectuals, academics, workers, and students from various northern and southern Yemeni governorates.
The party has effectively shared in various political and popular activities benefiting from the intensified membership of school students within the country and those sent on scholarships to other Arab countries.
It held its seven general conferences on a regular basis between its establishment and 1982. Prior to each of those national conferences an electoral session is held to elect leaders of the branches and partisan representatives to the national conference, according to the party’s bylaws.
In all national conferences, political and general organizational reports are discussed and endorsed in addition to drawing its future policies and electing the central leading body.
Among the most prominent historical positions of the party’s march before endorsing political pluralism that were announced with the re-unification of Yemen in 1990 are the following:
1-Rejecting a merger with the ruling party in the former southern part of the country in 1972 and as a result its branch leaders (in the southern part) were arrested and tried. Most of them were executed and the rest were thrown into prison for many years on charges of forming an opposition party under the ruling totalitarian system. However, they were later considered as martyrs to democracy by the Socialist Party’s fourth general conference recently held in Sanaa in its capacity as the then ruling party in the southern areas of the country.
2-Forging an alliance with President of the northern part of Yemen, Ibrahim Al Hamdy, in 1974 which developed later in his secret admission into the party in 1976. The party during the short reign of President Al Hamdy, 1974-77, was able to launch a modernization process in the society and lay down the basis of a modern country. It also managed to secure an extraordinary economic development and his rule witnessed one of the best experiments of popular participation in economic and social growth in the Third World. That was the cooperative movement led by Al Hamdy who extended to it his utmost support and care. He further formed the corrective committees which represented an experiment in eliminating government corruption and administration modernization with the Nasserites being the basic form along with others.
3-One year following Al Hamdy’s assassination and a few months after President Ali Abdullah Saleh took over power, the party led a corrective movement in October 1978 that was not successful. Most of the party’s central and branch leaders were arrested, tried, and executed.
4-A number of party leaders were able to leave the country for the southern part of Yemen and other Arab countries and formed the June 13 front that practiced political and military opposition to President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s regime in the northern areas. The party focused its calls then on Yemen’s unity and political pluralism to replace the totalitarian and partitional regimes which were ruling in both areas of Yemen.
5-In December, 1989 and only few months before the declaration of Yemen’s unity and the endorsement of political pluralism, the party declared itself in Aden as a civilian political party and gave up secret political and military activities. It also declared its open, democratic and peaceful methods, thus ending a period of underground work that coincided with the then ruling totalitarian regime and started a new era with the declared pluralism.
During the underground era of the party’s history, 1965-89, which coincided with the cold war between the eastern and western camps in both sections of Yemen, the party led violent political and public confrontations with both camps. In Yemen, these were represented by adopting capitalism as the economic system, Islamic tenets as the creed, and severe conservatism as social values, and marxism with all its political and social dimensions. Amidst that acute contradiction, the Organization reoriented itself by adopting socialism and democracy in addition to modern social values. Thus it found itself confronting the major parties which run the affairs of the country.
In 1993, the party held its 8th convention which was the first following the new multi-party system of the country. This was preceded by party elections at various organizational levels attended by 26,800 members.
The convention was attended by 430 representatives as well as guests from a number of Arab parties in addition to senior state officials and other Yemeni parties.
The 8th convention endorsed the party’s main documents including the political program and the bylaws which were re-worded to adjust to the new political system.
It also elected the central committee comprised of 89 members and the general secretariat, which is a 23 member politburo.
Abdul Malek Al Mikhlafy was elected as the new Secretary General in place of Abdul Ghani Thabet who had occupied the post in the period 1990-93.
In preparation for the 9th national convention, with the onset of 1998, a complete party-wide restructuring session was undertaken in which 51,680 members participated. New branch leaders were elected along with 560 representatives to attend the convention.
The convention is scheduled for the end of February in Sanaa. The agenda was determined following discussion and ratification of political and general organizational reports. Furthermore, the bylaws and political program were reviewed in light of previous experience in addition to electing the central leading body represented by the central committee, the politburo and the new Secretary General.
The most prominent highlights of the party’s march during its open era:
1- Taking part in the first unified parliament which was formed in accordance with the two regimes ruling both sections of Yemen. It was represented by Abdul Qudoos Al Midwahy the party’s political department head.
2- Effective participation in leading the opposition outside the parliament through the partisan formations represented by the parties’ secretariat then the opposition’s national bloc that was found in a general national conference attended by the party along with a number of other opposition parties.
3- The party shared membership with the higher elections committee that ran the first general elections in Yemen in April 1993. Abdul Malid Al Mikhlafy was chosen as chairman of the information and foreign relations committees. The party agreed to join the higher committee despite critical remarks and negative impressions of its work because it was formed out of all parties. The party, however, refused to share in the same committee that was formed after the 1993 elections because its formation was not balanced and the party had deep-rooted remarks on its formation and method of work during the preparation for the 1997 elections. Those remarks increased on the committee that was formed after the 1997 elections because it was not neutral and lacked the competence and capability that would ensure the integrity and neutrality of the general elections.
4- The organization participated in the first parliamentary elections following unification, receiving 53,000 votes and winning a seat by Sultan Hizam, member of the general secretariat.
5- In the wake of the acute national crisis that erupted following the 1993 elections, the party effectively participated in the national dialogue committee represented by the two members, Abdul Malik Al Mikhlafy, the Secretary General and Dr. Abdul Qudoos Al Midwahy, the political department head. They signed the national entente doctrine and the first project for the building of a modern Yemeni state.
6- The party adopted a strict, clearcut stance rejecting war and separation in 1994 which enabled it to play a prominent role after the war in stressing the continuation of partisan pluralism and the amalgamation of various opposition parties, including the Socialists, despite the difficult post-war circumstances. It also played a prominent role in forming the higher coordination council for the opposition parties.
7- The party advocated a strict stance, affirming the practicing of the minimum requirements of a democratic process despite all obstacles through its participation in the 1997 elections. Thus it was pursuing a distinctive position from the Socialist party and other members of the higher coordination council which boycotted the elections.
8- The party nominated 90 candidates and won 70,000 votes (including 15,000 supporting nominees backed by the party). It won three parliamentary seats, two in Taiz for Abdullah Mohammed Saleh and Sultan Hizam and one in Abyan for Ali Mohammed Al Yazidy. The later was the first won by the party in the southern areas.
9- It exerted intensified efforts to reactivate the opposition’s higher coordination council, bypassing the effects of past positions of members toward the 1997 elections and succeeding in its efforts.
10- The party adopted the call for serious participation on part of the opposition in the first presidential elections which will take place in October 1999. It succeeded in convincing other members of the higher coordination council to declare their agreement to share in the elections with a unified candidate.
11- The party advocated democratic local rule, professional and labor syndicates and non-government organizations in their capacity as the most important democratic processes in Yemen.
12- The party issues a weekly newspaper ‘AL WAHDAWI’ along with other local bulletins.
13- It shares in membership of most non-government organizations concerned with human rights and democracy on the local and national levels.
In addition to the Nasserite Uninist Party, there are two additional parties that carry the name Nasserite. “These are splinter groups which were encouraged and financed by the Yemeni Socialist Party on the one hand, and the People’s General Congress, on the other. With the relative decline of the YSP, their protege splinter group almost died away, while the protege of the PGC contionues to muddle through,” said Abdul-Malek Al-Mikhlafy.
In the 1993 elections, the NUP succeeded in sending one member to parliament. In the 1997, it sent three members. “We hope to get 10 seats in the elections,” Al-Mikhlafy said.