Now that amnesty is granted to Ali Salim Al-Bied along with 15 other separatistsWill he return? [Archives:2003/637/Front Page]

May 26 2003

Mohammed Al-Qadhi
SANAA – Questions are being asked throughout the country on whether the man who used to be the second during 1990-1994, Ali Salim Al-Bied will be back to his homeland. Those questions were raised after President Ali Abdullah Saleh decreed amnesty to him along with 15 other leaders of 1994 civil war. The president's decision invited different responses from different political parties and politicians. The possible return of Haider Abu Bakr al-Attas, al-Bied's prime minister during the 1994 war, is also in question.
The Yemeni Socialist Party (YSP) welcomed Saleh's pardon which the YSP has been calling for since late 1994 and was the reason behind its boycott of parliamentary elections in 1997. In a statement issued on the 13th anniversary of unification, the General Secretariat of the YSP considered the amnesty statement of the president a good step towards getting back the peaceful and democratic context of the unification. It stressed that this would help demolish the impact of the past conflicts and open the way for brighter future for Yemen. Dr. Saif Sael, YSP's assistant secretary general said the pardon serves the political situation in the country as well as the national rally Saleh called for. He described the decision as wise. However, the YSP demanded that the conviction should be abolished too. Dr. Mohammed al-Mikhlafi, YSP head of legal department, said the pardon should be a first step to end up the impact of the war. He emphasized that dropping the conviction entails the canceling of the charges. While al-Bied did not comment on the amnesty, al-Attas welcomed it and said he would come back soon to Yemen.
On his part, Anees Hasan Yahya, one of the convicted, said the pardon was a surprise to him, but he considered it positive and courageous. He said the amnesty would enable them to come back home and practice their political and civil rights. He denied that the pardon decision came a s a result of a deal between the government and the YSP.
Mr. Abdulrahman al-Jifri, head of Sons of Yemen League Party and one of the convicted welcomed the decision of Saleh, confirming the support of his party to this step which is one of the factors that would push democracy into the right path.
Islah party which had participated in the war against the socialist party, said that the pardon should be vital to reform the political situation of both the authority and opposition as they are both the main players in the political life of the country. In a statement by an official in the party, Islah called that the decision should achieve the aims of all political forces in closing down the files of past conflicts, spreading the culture of tolerance, applying constitution in letter and spirit. Islah confirmed that the pardon should not be a mere political declaration, demanding a solution to its consequences so as to enable all people to take part in building up Yemen and supporting democracy which would not have been achieved if there was no unification. “Islah is studying all means to achieve this” the statement said, adding that Islah has called for all the opposition parties in the Joint Meeting Opposition to discuss this seriously because the amnesty is a chance that should be made use of to strengthen all political forces. Islah also stressed that this should be a first step that enables all people inside and outside Yemen to contribute to development of democracy and the role to be played by the opposition which considers the pardon one of its parameters to correct the mistakes and relations between the political players, responding to the challenges that face the democratic transition and political development as a major element of development at large. The Islah also stressed that all political parties should evaluate their stands in an objective manner so as to avoid falling into the traps of the same mistakes.
The timing of the amnesty raised a lot of question marks. Some political observers told Yemen Times that president Saleh has chosen this time to issue the decree as he came to realize that the YSP is no more a big number in the political spectrum, taking into account the number of seats the socialist got in the last parliamentary election, mainly in the southern governorates. Another important element that helped issuing the pardon is that Islah is no more objecting such a pardon as it used to do before having good contacts with the YSP, despite the fact that some traditional figures in the Islah did not welcome Saleh's pardon. President Saleh delayed the issuance of this amnesty as he used to listen to the objection of Islah as well as his cronies. However, some others believe the timing has to do with what has taken place in Iraq and that Saleh has demolished the idea that his opponents outside might be used one day as a means to blackmail and pressure his regime. Despite the motives behind the amnesty, people consider it wise.
Saleh last Thursday announced the amnesty on the penalties against those who took part in the war of 1994. ” On this occasion we announce an amnesty on the penalties against those condemned in the great criminal case and we call them to participate in building the nation, which is big enough for everyone,” the president said in a speech marking the unification day.
Here is a list of the names of the pardoned leaders who were tried and sentenced in absentia in 1997. They live in different countries.
1-Ali Salem al-Bied ( death penalty)
2- Haider Abu Bakr al-Attas (death penalty)
3- Haitham Kasim Taher (death penalty)
4-Saleh Ubaid Ahmad (death penalty)
5-Saleh Munasser al-Saili (death penalty)
6-Abdulrahman al-Jifri (a stay of execution for 7-year jail sentence)
7- Muthana Saleh Askar (10-year jail sentence)
8- Mohammed Ali Al-Kairahi ( 10 year jail sentence)
9- Kasim Yahia Kasim (10-year jail sentence)
10- Sulaiman Naser Masood (a stay of execution for 7-year jail sentence)
11- Anees Hasan Yahia (a stay of execution for 5-year jail sentence)
12- Salem Mohammed Jubran (a stay of execution for 5-year jail sentence)
13- Ahmad Ubaid bin Daghr (a stay of execution for 3-year jail sentence)
14- Saleh Shaif (acquitted)
15- Kasim Abdul Ra'ab (acquitted)
16- Abu Bakr bin Husainoon (acquitted as he was killed in the war)