Opposition demands ratification of ICC and democratic reforms in Yemen [Archives:2004/702/Local News]

January 12 2004

Mohammed Al-Qadhi
The Opposition parties demanded that government should complete constitutional measures to ratify the treaty of the International Criminal Court (ICC) establishment by getting the parliament endorsement. The Opposition parties said in a statement addressed to the participants in the Inter-governmental Regional Conference on Democracy, Human Rights and the role of the ICC that “occasional festivities and call for promotion of democracy and human rights values is not enough in countries going through democratic transition including Yemen.'' They confirmed that Yemen would not be able to achieve this change before fulfilling some priorities like moving from “values of tyranny, power and wealth monopoly to building democracy and accepting partnership of power and development as well as enhancing pluralistic system and establishing the state of law and order.'' The opposition statement figured out some obstacles facing such democratic transition to take place in Yemen. They said that the elections which Yemen ran since 1993 have not achieved a step to go ahead with democracy. “Except for the 1993 election, other elections were less free, less fair and they resulted in frustration with pluralism and the possibility of change through ballot boxes which can bring about peaceful transfer of power,'' the statement said. They said that the reason for this lies in a single constituency system which enhances the traditional links based on tribalism and enables the political regimes obtain great majority in the parliament and thus monopolizing the power in addition to the absence of representation of big groups of the society, including women. Therefore, there must be, according to the opposition statement, an election system that can achieve justice, enhance pluralism and brings about fair election with accepted results and thus making it possible for power transfer to happen, creating a parliament and local councils that can really voice the people. They also pointed out that the 1994 Civil War and the maintenance of its results has led to the pre-democracy era where there has been no clear distinction between the state and the ruling party which uses both power, public job and money for its interest; this makes the opposition in competition with the state with all its privileges including the security and military rather than the ruling party. The statement said that therefore elections since 1997 lack fair and transparent competition as the voters are manipulated in different ways. “Therefore, the democratic process in Yemen needs support including the need for having a division between the state and parties, establishing the rule of law, fair and independent judiciary and ensuring the neutrality of public wealth, media, and job as well as the military and security “nstitutions,'' the statement said. The opposition parties also demanded that the government should stop manipulating civil society organizations, enabling them to operate freely so that they can contribute to the promotion of democracy and human rights. “For all these reasons, the rule of law is still a prerequisite that can not be achieved without the establishment of the state of law and respect of governance legitimacy,'' it stressed. The opposition said that the political regime has tried to marginalize the role of the main and real opposition parties and active NGOs in the political life and thus giving a room for clown political parties and NGOs just for the purpose of completing the shape of “decorated democracy.”” They already complained that even their representation in the event was short cut.