Noting to pride in the past, nothing to hope for in the future [Archives:2007/1076/Opinion]

August 13 2007

Dr. Abdullah Al-Faqih
It is very difficult for anyone to understand insistence of the regime to mark the seventeenth of July every year, as an anniversary of President Ali Abdullah Saleh's assuming throne in North Yemen. Saleh's first day in power was July 17, 1978. Similarly, the analyst find difficulty understanding the reasons behind the regime's insistence to exercise an act, which opponents and proponents describe as a non-unity, non-democratic and non-political behavior.

Regardless of the regime's logic and justifications that the writer believes that marking the anniversary damages the national unity and the democratic legitimacy, which President Saleh claims to respect, reasons behind this are galore.

President Saleh came to power at the time of what was known the Arab Republic of Yemen on July 17, 1978. Theoretically, it is supposed that the then republic had ended without any expectation that it will return. The case is not that different from what was known the People's Democratic Republic of Yemen prior to the national unity, which was established in May 1990. Supposedly, establishment of the Republic of Yemen laid the foundation stone for a new era and a new legitimacy based on the public will of Yemenis without an exception.

It is supposed that president in the Yemeni regime is elected via a democratic manner and for a limited term. The last time President Saleh was reelected took place on September 20, 2006, and if Mr. President celebrated his electoral victory, this would have been reasonable and bearable despite harsh criticism of the most recent presidential and local council elections for featuring vote fraud and other violations. But the way Mr. President alleges that he was democratically elected on a particular date and then marks the day when he first came to power 29 years ago implies great and clear contradictions.

In any country worldwide, power is supposed to be looked at as a sacrifice and not a profit. If power is considered a sacrifice, celebrating the first day of coming to power lead people to question the nature of the outstanding relations between the rulers and the ruled. This raises more questions about the fact that Mr. President, his tenure and ruling party are the only ones who mark the anniversary and not all the Yemeni people.

It is not good for any president in any republican country, where there should be a peaceful transfer of power and equal political representation based on competition, to remind his people of the first day he assumed power. Whenever people forget about Mr. President's staying in power for 29 years, marking the anniversary per year reminds them of the electoral violations and constitutional restrictions they suffer under the unchanged regime. The real-life situation reveals that the regime harms its status by behaving this way.

The overwhelming majority of Yemen's population suffers hard economic conditions and poor living standards. They are awaiting Mr. President and his tenure to alleviate their sufferings and improve their living standards. The real-life situation tells us that the current regime takes the country and its people to the unknown, thanks to failed policies, unwise decisions and formal democracy.

It is time for Mr. President and his advisors, as well as members and leaders of the General People Congress and those who want the current regime to remain, to quit recollecting past events and achievements such as the 26 Revolution, national unity and victory in the 1994 Civil War. It is time for them to forget about the past and think about what they can do for Yemen to develop and prosper.

There are numerous challenges posed to the national development for the time being, coupled with other challenges, which people expect to face the vulnerable country in the days to come. It is not good for the regime to confront such challenges by escaping from the present time toward the past. As a comprehensive challenge, development cannot be reached via commemorating outdated events while popularity and support can not be gained by the exchange of congratulations among officials on different media.

Abdullah Al-faqih is an activist, analyst, and professor of politics at San'a University. The article is inspired by a study he carried out for the Women Forum for Research and Training)WFRT on political citizenship in the Republic of Yemen. The author encourages comments and he can be reached by email at: [email protected].

Source: Al-Ahali Weekly