Opposition demands President’s power be restricted [Archives:2005/898/Front Page]

November 28 2005

Mohammed bin Sallam
SANA'A- Nov. 26- The Joint Opposition Meeting Parties (JOMPs) has presented their project for political and national reforms to the Parliament, in a step that have outraged the regime as it comes only a few months prior to presidential elections claiming that 'such a time is not convenient for demands' even if it was discussed in the parliament.

However, the opposition commented on this ridicules claim saying that this regime does not act in the best interests of Yemen, therefore it is the duty of the opposition is to stop the economic and political deterioration and prevent an eventual catastrophe if the current situation continues as it may result in the collapse of the country. The opposition parties have referred to the official and international reports that warned of bad consequences in Yemen unless there are reforms in different areas.

On the political front:

The JOMPs hold the view that symptoms of the Yemeni crisis are worsened in the absence of the law and reliable institutions, lack of equity under the law and the President's centralized monopolization of powers with maximum authorities and minimum responsibilities. They claimed that there is no accountability and equality as the legislature and judicature authorities should be independent and yet they are controlled by the President. The described the current governmental system as “disabled”.

The JOMPs learned from proven experience and Yemeni history that replacing the current regime by the Parliament will constitute a distinctive move in achieving political reforms and paving the way for reforms in other areas as well. The Parliamentary system, they noted, is due to put an end to the people's sufferings from this centralized governance that formed a perennial issue for Yemenis.

They claimed that the current regime helped the ruling party in controlling all authorities, edge out the role of institutions, develop corruption into becoming a well-organized practice, and monopolize power and hand downs it to whom it wants in accordance with the interests of the ruling party and not the Yemeni people. Such malpractices lead to the spread of chaos at the expense of stability and the status of the law. Consequently, the Yemeni people have been systematically deprived from their rights and interests, and standards of individuals' loyalty to the ruling party have replaced their loyalty to the country and respect of the law and the constitution, the JOMPs commented. The outcome is in devoting the national abilities to serving survival of the ruling party and its leadership at the expense of fulfilling the basic needs of the Yemeni people and their economic, political and social well-being.

On the economic and social fronts:

According to JOMPs: 'Aspects of the crisis are reflected in the economic deterioration and disinvestment of national and foreign capitals from the country; Officials exploit their powers in interrupting businessmen and investors through imposing unlawful constrains and occasionally their partnership on them in profits, leading poverty to escalate over the majority of labor force and unemployment rate to hit a record spects of the economic crisis are also reflected in the deterioration of the average per capita income which led Yemen to rank among the poorest and least developed countries in spite of its natural resources. There is also an evident deterioration in the level and quality of education, health services, electricity and all social services, as well as the backwardness of infrastructure.'

In their bill, JOMPs demand that the republican regime be reformed through the establishment of an efficient, democratic and fair governance mechanism in order to achieve balance between authorities, develop the economy, boost democracy, ensure rights and freedoms, expand the operational base of political participation and make the peaceful handover of power possible, as well as to enable women to practice their constitutional and legal rights and play a positive role in the day-to-day life.

The second demand of the JOMPs is the creation of a strong civil community armed with independent and invulnerable institutions taking their strength from their independence and their ability to represent interests of the society.

The third of the JOMPs' demands is in pushing forward the wheel of sustainable development, tackling issues associated with poverty and unemployment, working hard in order to achieve justice, improving the living standards of citizens, combating corruption and eradicating the factors which breads violence, extremism and terrorism.

The fourth demand is employing Yemen's international relations for serving development and achieving stability and fruitful cooperation with other countries.

The JOMPs claimed the government should be held to accountable before the parliament in a regular and continuous manner, the President should be granted only the powers defined by the Parliament and be questionable thereafter. Also, the Central Organization for Control and Audit should be affiliated to the Parliament and decisions concerning the appointment of the Governor of the Central Bank of Yemen should be restricted to ensure entire independence of the bank.

According to the JOMPs, the legislature has to be, through the Central Organization for Control and Audit, responsible for monitoring the use of State's facilities and preventing them from being exploited by any parties or organizations. They suggested that the Parliamentary term be set at 4 years and the presidential term at 5 years and insisted on reforming the judicature system, enhancing its role and maintaining its independence financially, administratively and technically. Supreme Court judges, they stated, should be selected by the Parliament, courts of appeal have to be canceled and the general attorney must be separated from the executive bureau and its apparatuses.

The opposition urged for reforming the electoral system to ensure fair representation for different social classes though enhancing the neutrality of the High Commission for Elections and Referendum. The opposition activists insisted on reforming the local authorities, adopting the administrative decentralization, approving the principle of electing the governors and district chiefs, and amending the local authority law to remove restrictions of centralization.

Regarding rights and public freedoms, the opposition parties demanded the provision of equal opportunities for all citizens in getting governmental jobs, banning the practice of partisan, ethnical and provincial discriminations in the distribution of jobs.

Party affairs committee should be cancelled and citizens should be enabled to establish and form syndicates, organizations and civil and private corporations through free and fair elections with no reference to the executive parties in the government, the opposition added.

Expressions of opinion, the right for protest, sit-in, journalism, as well as the right for establishment of visible and audible media corporations must be granted and ensured.

The JOMPs claimed stoppage of all kinds of assaults and harassments against rights and freedoms and the arbitrary arrests that violate the constitution and the law.

Among the JOMPs' demands is the cancellation of illegal prisons, prohibiting the administrative imprisonment, invalidating the law of public demonstrations, amending the law of political parties and organizations, the press law and the law of syndicates and associations and purifying laws and legislations from clauses which restrict rights and freedoms ensured by the law and authenticated by the international conventions.

The opposition's bill stressed on respecting and maintaining the patriotic style of the military and security forces and specifying their role to be in conformity with the constitution, the Parliamentary democratic regime and the political multiplicity. It also stressed on reforming the Ministry of Interior the security apparatuses and the affiliation of all the military and security forces to the Cabinet in their affairs.

The opposition demanded public media means be transformed into politically-independent national institutions and restrictions should be set to ensure their neutrality and prevent their being exploited to the advantage of any political party. It also insisted on the cancellation of the Ministry of Information.

With respect to administrative reforms and corruption eradication, the opposition parties urged for the approval of the standards of eligibility, efficiency, ability, integrity, seniority and qualification in the occupation of jobs. The principle of open competition for the occupation of jobs should be approved in the light of these standards and the sale and purchase of public jobs should be banned.

According to the opposition, the wage ladder should be modified to cope up with the inflation and new economic changes, and that the President of the Republic, Vice-President, Prime Minister and the ministers should be banned from practicing any trade, investment or industrial activities.

Additionally, the opposition leaders claimed the provision of legal protection for journalists and media apparatuses and allowing journalists the right to obtain information and view any official registers and documents. They demanded rationalization of public spending, preventing the wastage of resources, increasing development-related expenditures and giving more priority to the sectors of education, health and public services.

With regard to reform of cultural and social policies, the JOMPS insisted on reforming the current educational system, developing the role of Yemeni woman in the society and empowering her to practice all her constitutional and legal rights. More emphasis was laid to the health insurance draft for all citizens without any discrimination and exception to maintain the dignity of citizens.

The JOMPs' demands for reforming the external policy included the restructuring of Yemen's external policy on the basis of national partnership and the transparent dealing in the specification of goals. Another demand covers Yemen's preparation for the Gulf Cooperative Council entry, enhancement of Yemen's relations with other brotherly countries and the improvement of dialogue with other countries.

Concluding their reform bill, the Joint Opposition Meeting Parties- the Yemeni Islah Party, the Yemeni Socialist Party, the Nasserite Popular Unionist Organization, the Arab Socialist Nationalist Baath Party, the Popular Forces Union and the Haq Party- are of the opinion that reform can be achieved only through proper media means and in accordance with the constitution and the law.