Opposition questions GPC seriousness [Archives:2005/835/Front Page]

April 21 2005

Mohammed Al-Qadhi
The opposition Joint Meeting Parties (a coalition including Islah, Socialists, Nasserites and other five small parties) refused to join the dialogue proposed by the ruling General Peoples' Congress (GPC) unless the agenda of the dialogue is set and agreed upon beforehand.

Sultan al-Attwani, the Nasserite Secretary-General told Yemen Times that the opposition parties stipulate that the GPC deals with them as a coalition rather separate parties as well as setting a timetable for the dialogue. “We were invited to the dialogue, we welcomed this initiative that came as a response to our calls. We told the GPC that there must be a timetable and arrangement for the issues to be debated and discussed. The reply was that our request will be discussed and then they will respond to it. We are still awaiting their answer,” he said.

The ruling party said that the opposition coalition requested at the opening session of dialogue and that the GPC-favored National Council Parties be not involved in the dialogue. Dr. Abdul-Karim al-Eryani, GPC Secretary General, insisted however, that the dialogue should include the 21 parties licensed by the Parties Committee.

“We know beforehand that the GPC is going to say so. We are interested in the dialogue. But, dealing with us as separated parties is a good signal that the GPC is not serious about dialogue; The GPC has the right to dialogue with whosoever but we will join the dialogue with it as one bloc for the opposition parties,” al-Attwani said.

“There must be an agenda and issues for the dialogue. It is not just media propaganda. We have political, economic reforms and other issues that need to be discussed. It is now at the hand of the ruling party and we hope that it will respond positively to our letter to prove it is serous about it.”

The GPC Permanent Committee's last meeting notice had called on opposition parties to join a dialogue based on national principles, law, and the constitution. This was in the wake of protests against the sales tax sweeping the country in the middle of last month.

Political observers believe that the technique of dialogue and deliberation promoted by GPC leaders enhances the opposition's air of caution especially as the dialogue invitation goes against the GPC's recent accusations and smear campaigns against some opposition parties conducted by official and Ruling Party's newspapers. They are also carrying out an ongoing policy of duplicating parties as well as threatening to dismantle existing parties.