Opposition promises surprises in 2009 elections [Archives:2007/1070/Front Page]

July 23 2007

Emad Al-Saqqaf
TAIZ, July 22 ) While looked on with suspicion by the government, the Joint Meeting Parties (JMP) are re-gathering their forces in order to strike back in the next parliamentary elections taking place in 2009.

Early preparation for the April 2009 parliamentary elections have began, with the launch of media campaigns in Taiz, Yemen's most populous governorate. Last week, the Joint Meeting Parties (JMP) organized a seminar on political dialogue in which it attacked policies of the current ruling party, accusing the party of stalling in the implementation of promised political reforms as well as leading Yemen into a desperate economic, social and political situation. The JMP demanded that the government seriously tackle the reforms before the official launch of the parliamentarian elections campaign.

Mohammad Qahtan, member of the supreme committee of the Islah opposition party considered the coming elections in 2009 as a “bridge for Yemen to the future, and a turning point in the political process.” He commented that the competition will not be easy and that the opposition are taking their task seriously in order to “shake the presidential chair.”

Mohammad Al-Sabri, JMP spokesperson, confirmed the party's commitment to creating holistic political reform through peaceful and organized means, including dialogue. He pointed out that there are many obstacles to the implementation of reformative mechanisms, especially being that those currently in authority do not accept the concept of sharing national responsibility and affiliate patriotism exclusively to the ruling party, the General People's Congress (GPC).

Leaders of the JMP continuously encourage the gathering of forces in a collective struggle to change the current political system, deeming such change as a noble national quest. They feel that creating a strong and responsible Parliament is the first step to this change and so they are relying heavily on the results of the elections.

The GPC has retaliated by vehemently lashing out at the opposition and its public statements. Official media campaigns and seminars carried out by members of the GPC endorse the party's commitment to the betterment of Yemen.

They accused the JMP of “targeting national stability and causing internal conflict.” The GPC has also clearly defined three red areas that must not be compromised: the republican system, Yemeni unity, and the democratic process. The GPC accused those who belittle any of the three as “traitors” and “people with suspicious agenda.”

However, both the current government and the opposition agree that Yemen faces significant challenges, especially population growth and exhaustion of natural resources. Yet what the JMP proposes is a new government to deal with these and other issues, claiming that the current system has failed in this task. “We are offering an alternative ruling power for Yemen sake, and this is the JMP. We are confident that we can solve the problems Yemen is facing provided we get our fair chance,” stressed Al-Sabri. At a recent speaking engagement in Taiz, the JMP demanded serious reforms, accusing the current government of lip service. Deputy President Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi also made a public statement in Taiz on Saturday, attacking the JMP. He called on Yemeni people to stand against the opposition. “Anyone who tries to tamper with the Yemeni achievements and principles and accuses the state of abusing power will be faced by Yemeni citizens from Sa'ada to Al-Mahara who will not tolerate such behavior,” Hadi stated to a huge audience, which included leading figures of the GPC.

It is yet to be seen whether the JMP will be able to live up to its promises in the coming elections. However, strong statements made by the current government following the JMP seminar in Taiz indicate great tension and apprehension on the part of the GPC toward the opposition.