Opposition States its view on the Elections: “Our Call to Boycott Elections Has Been Heard!” [Archives:1999/40/Law & Diplomacy]

October 4 1999

After getting the official point of view in regard to the voting activities and results in the last issue, here we have the opposition’s point of view. What they think about the results and voting proceedings were the two focus points in these interviews.
Ibtisam Al-Hamdi
I believe that the elections held were mere implementation of the letter of the law. However, they lost their spirit and their essence which is a hot and strong competition. Equal chances for the candidates were not at all there which was bestowed on the control of one of the candidates including the public resources, as well as the media and the army. We were not also fully guaranteed of elections being fair and just. It was also clear to all as it was a foregone conclusion that the outcome will go in favor of the strong side. However, the only virtue of these elections is that the people will learn from these elections and their awareness will develop sooner or later. We should also believe that the fruits of elections are not restricted to the day of casting polls, the fruits will be rather harvested after four or five years.
As regards the future of Yemen and Yemenis, I believe that nothing will change and everything will remain as it is, if not becomes worse. In regard to the President’s promises and whether he will carry them out, I absolutely believe that it is almost impossible to separate a person and his past; so if the President has made promises before and fulfilled them, he will fulfill the new ones, if not then it is very difficult to break a habit. Those who elected the President have actually tested him and he will prove whether he is a success or failure and we should bear it in mind that the experienced failure counts a double.
Whether elections will be a milestone of a new area in our society, I believe that this will not happen unless there is a real change which is based on two things; the first is specifying and counting resources to make changes needed and the second is the specialized manforce. However, what actually happened so far is that we have not seen or heard about any resources that have been specified for reforming or developing aspects. What we have heard about is “We will do this, this, ………………..!”. Moreover, if the ruler’s terms in office is too long, it is certain that centers of forces are destined to be formed. These centers will exploit resources for their personal benefits and in course of time they will be a stumbling block for any development and reforms and those influential and despotic will be more and more despotic.
Ibrahim Hussain Ahmad
Like many other Arab, Asian and African countries, Yemen hardly seems to witness any fundamental changes in the official performance after any parliamentarian or presidential elections. What happens is that, the elected president becomes bounded by the power centers that supported him in the election and their heavy demands. These demands are among the main reasons for corruption, eating away the public funds.
On the subject of the future of Yemen after the presidential election that took place on Sept. 23th, 1999, stating an accurate picture is a matter of impossibility, especially in a unitary government, like Yemen. However, according to a number of facts, the great amount of money spent on the election process and the demands of the related parties have effected the general budget. Unless a real policy for economization is applied, the country will witness a disaster in the upcoming months. Moreover, about 90% of the people will be in a deplorable condition that may culminate in a real threat to the social security. Many countries in the arena deprive their peoples of their political rights, but in return they provide them with the best living standards. The catastrophe takes place when the peoples are deprived of both freedom and “food”. In this way the peoples find themselves compelled to take to the path of revolution.
Go back through the Arab history and you will find few exceptional cases in which the Arab leaders kept their words, and Yemen is not an exception. However, being given the Yemeni people’s mandate, President Ali Abdulla Saleh still has a unique opportunity to immortalize himself. In my opinion, President Saleh has two choices: the first one is possessing a real desire and determination to implement real economic and political reforms. In this regard, he will need a new administration other than the existing one which is supposed to be the reason for the present discouraging situation of the country. Keeping even few individuals in the present administration means that the President has backed out in his promises. This does not mean necessarily that he has to open fire on everything wrong, but the people must feel there are some changes. If the President does this, he will gain the support of at least 90% of the Yemeni people. The second choice is to surrender to the demands and pressures of the power centers which will lead to ignoring the people’s demands, as well as the promises he has made. If this is the president’s choice, he will lose the people’s support and the country will be led to a future that I can simply describe as DISASTROUS.
Fuad Mohammed Bamatraf
Second secretary of the YSP, Hadramout & Correspondent of a number of newspapers.
The Presidential election came at a difficult time. The country still lives the aftermath of the 94 Summer War, the national opposition has abandoned the political life. The ruling party refuses to hold dialogues with the other parties for a national reconciliation that will help create an atmosphere of political stability in the country.
The election could have been more interesting if the ruling party abided by the Constitution that calls for real competitive elections among the existing political parties.
The election lost its national and political values by rejecting the opposition nominee, Ali Saleh Obad Moqbel, let alone the loss of any political guarantees for holding fair and just elections and refraining from deleting the repeated names of voters in many electoral districts. These facts, along with the result of the election which showed that only 65% of the total voters enrolled in the voting lists participated in the election reflect the fact that the election was not as it should be. In fact, the election result reflected the public’s general attitude towards the election, disregarding their response to the opposition’s calls of boycotting the election. The ruling party should realize that solving the political and economic problems will never be reached through removing the “others”. However, I think the President now has got a “historic” chance to reform the discouraging condition of the country. The election did not establish a “constitutional or public legislation”, as the ruling party hoped. It rather confirmed the public’s refusal of the present situation, as well as their refusal of those in charge reform the country’s condition. Therefore, the future of Yemen is bounded by the ruling party’s reconsideration of its calculations, polices, as well as the way it intends to reform the bad conditions of the country on the basis of the election result. In fact, I can say that, the country is in a cross road. The opposition has to seize this “historic” chance to take the initiative to call for a national dialogue and reconciliation, not through meetings and circulars of appeals, but through depending on the people who have given a strong signal on Sept. 23rd, 99.