Opposition Parties’ Unanimous Stand Against the Proposed Elections Amendments [Archives:2001/28/Front Page]

July 9 2001

The government of Mr. Abdulqader Bajamal held the second meeting with opposition parties and civil society organizations yesterday. The meeting discussed the amended draft law for the conduct of elections. The participants highlighted shortcomings in the electoral system in Yemen and the political parties’ views relating to the legislative as well as political dimensions of the law.
The government says the dialogue, started last Wednesday, is meant to expand the scope of public participation in the process of democratization. It also says that the amended law is congruent with the constitutional amendments put on referendum last February and aims at strengthening democracy through improving the electoral system. The amendments seek to abolish the representation of political parties in the Supreme Election Committee (SEC) as well as in other election monitoring committees in charge of conduct of elections. The suggested amendments provide nominations of 15 persons by the President to the membership of the SEC. The parliament would select 7 out of those 15 and the President then would endorse nomination of the parliament and pass decrees to that effect. According to the amendments, the president has the right to fire any of the seven members of the SEC, a right which he does not enjoy now. The term of the SEC members in office is extended to 6 years to coincide with the extension of parliament’s term as spelt out by the constitutional amendments.
While the government says the amendments will ensure the neutrality of the SEC, the opposition parties are of the opinion that this is a veiled attempt to nip democracy at the bud, achieve totalitarianism and centralization of power by the ruling party.
They ask for electoral legislation that ensure transparency, expand public participation and define certain measures to ensure fair election. The opposition also demands the stop of abusing power, public treasury or military to influence elections for the favor of the ruling party as well as reforming the voters payrolls. The parties also ask for the neutrality of the SEC which all parties agree to have been behind the mistakes that coincided with the recent local elections.
The Yemeni Socialist Party (YSP) presented its suggestions on the reform of the electoral system in writing last Wednesday. It believes the amendments will crack down the neutrality of the SEC which can be achieved only through the inter monitoring that all parties take part in through their equal membership in the SEC. The YSP refutes the government allegations in this regard. It says that the link between these amendments on election law and the constitutional amendments is missing as the constitutional amendments did not hit the electoral system at all.
Yemen Times learned that the opposition and Islah will have a unified stand against the amendments of the election law.