Opposition: Between participation and boycotting [Archives:2008/1192/Opinion]

September 22 2008

Muneer Al-Mawri
Loud voices amid the Yemeni opposition community have called for boycotting the upcoming parliamentary election, scheduled to take place on April 27, 2009. Despite doubts on the possibility of conducting the election on its determined date amid standing tension over political detentions and oppressive practices, the issue of participating in the election or boycotting it deserves thorough discussion to know more about any positives and negatives resulting from an option Joint Meeting Parties (JMP) are due to adopt, particularly as they represent the strongest opposition parties in the nation.

Have begun discussing “boycotting the election”, those, who call for boycotting, build their calls on the comic electoral game. They also attempt to prevent the regime to enjoy a legitimacy that it doesn't deserve, and at the same time realizing that the regime will not stop rigging the votes and committing other numerous frauds by employing multiple means. Consequently, the election will be nothing more than a comic game.

Although my opinion agrees with those who call for boycotting the upcoming election, I don't think that participating in the election is the appropriate option due to the following reasons.

First, it is possible for the opposition to combine between participating in the election and at the same time depriving the regime of enjoying a legitimacy, which it has been dreaming of for along time period. I think that the opposition's refusal to name its representatives for membership of Supreme Commission for Election and Referendum (SCER) was enough to scandalize the regime that the opposition parties don't accept to be perjurers in the election.

Irregardless of the various procedures due to be taken by the ruling party to cover the potential electoral violations, the results of its procedures will be easily challengeable since they are based on individual and moody decisions in which the opposition was not involved.

First ever rejected republican decree

The opposition should realize that it has taken a great step when its former representatives in the SCER excused themselves from implementing a republican decree regarding their reappointment to the commission. This is the first ever republican decree rejected by a certain party in the nation throughout the history of Yemen.

As long as it is not usual for the ruler to see that its decisions are rejected, the effect of the slap will be so great until the extent of refraining from going to ballot boxes.

The second reason is that if the opposition boycotts the election, it will mean that the opposition will be deprived even of the minimum presence in Parliament. Consequently, the opposition parties gambles by refraining to select a candidate to represent them in the presidential election since presidential nomination needs a recommendation by at least 10 percent of both Parliament and Shoura Council members.

Islah Party: Main factor behind Bin Shamlan Nomination

Without the Islah Party's bloc in Parliament, the opposition parties could not have named Faisal Bin Shamlan the JMP presidential candidate in 2006 elections. We still remember the trial of Yemeni Socialist Party in 1999 when it failed to nominate its Secretary General Ali Saleh Abbad Muqbil due to lack of required recommendation. Therefore, the ruling party selected Najeeb Qahtan Al-Sha'abi as a formal candidate in a manner not posing any threat to the permanent candidate (Ali Abdullah Saleh).

Third, boycotting the election in principle means that opposition parties must resort to the public. Consequently, these parties will gradually change from an opposition to resistance. This is the only option that may help return the regime to the right path. Before such takes place, opposition leaders should ask themselves whether they are ready to do this or not. They also should question themselves whether they are ready for jails, fighting with their jailers and sacrificing their interests and experiences or it is not yet time to take such a strong step.

Source: Al-Masdar.com