New parliament’s session marked with Islah-GPC tension and a raging bullBulling start for parliament [Archives:2003/639/Front Page]

June 5 2003

Last week's parliament sessions started in an unbelievably bizarre manner. In a time accusations were exchanged between parliament members within the building, a raging bull broke free from his captors and stormed the parliament square, injuring three people including a soldier, Ali Assa'i before being shot dead by guards. Some unconfirmed reports said that the bull also resulted in the death of a foreign lady, who was critically injured and taken to hospital before she passed away.

Tensions inside too
Within the parliament's building itself, a heated dispute erupted between the General People's Congress (GPC) bloc chairman Sultan al-Barakani and Naji al-Qawsi who protested against his exclusion from the parliament.
Another argument also exploded between Sheikh Hameed al-Ahmar, Member of Islah opposition party and son of the speaker of the parliament Sheikh al-Ahmar and Yahya Arra'ee of the GPC as a result of the exclusion of some opposition members in some parliamentary committees.
According to eyewitnesses, Arra'ee called upon GPC members to leave the parliament by saying, “Leave the parliament for the Sheikh -Abdullah al-Ahmar- and his sons.” Similarly, some members said that Sheikh Hameed accused Arra'ee and Al-Barakani of favoring the GPC over other members. “The parliament is not the property of Al-Barakani or Arra'ee” he was quoted saying.
Despite attempts by the parliament speaker to calm the situation down and resume the meeting, the parliament session was cancelled and all members left the hall.

Bad start
Some Yemenis who believe in superstition called this incident “a signal of a bad parliamentary season” while others considered it a 'normal accident'.
The bull was facing slaughter anyway in front of parliament by tribesmen wanting to highlight grievances against the Capital secretariat for seizing their land.
Under local tribal customs, slaughtering a bull can express grievance, objection, sorrow or penitence. People at the seen criticized security and traffic police for letting those tribesmen come into the complex with a bull to slaughter. “This is outrageous! How can the police and guards allow this to happen.” one of the eyewitnesses said. On the other hand, others believe that it is the right of any Yemeni to bring bulls to wherever he wishes as long as it is done peacefully.
It is common to find pickups with a bull or more waiting in front of gates of important buildings or houses of high-ranking officials including the president of the republic. It is believed that there is no reason to worry about this phenomenon as long as it is done peacefully but intellectuals believe that the government should limit such 'out-dated traditions' to take place in major cities. Nevertheless, all agreed that the events of that day certainly indicate that trouble may still lie ahead in future parliament sessions.