Our stages of democratic construction [Archives:2006/1000/Opinion]

November 20 2006

In the analysis of the course of democratic construction that President Ali Abdullah Saleh has drawn for our Yemeni experiment we have noticed he is almost entering the third stage after the success of the recent presidential and local elections and in the light what the president's election platform has touched on as well as a number of other factors.

He who has studied and followed up the development of the democratic experiment and pattern of the existing political order since President Saleh assumed power in July 1978 would notice it has passed two stages of democratic construction mostly characterized by rational and objective gradualness.

The first stage is called establishment. The president has set it for experimentation through the practices of the authority of democracy such as people's referendums and elections of cooperative councils as well as to arouse the interest of society in this program and its advantages. After that he managed to finalize theoretical programs and guides for that democratic orientation, namely the National Charter of 1982. The president enhanced that by holding the first parliamentary direct election – the elections of the Shoura Council in 1988. To develop the emerging experiment there was the Yemeni unity in 1990, with which the president concluded the components of the first stage.

The second stage was characterized by practicing. The president was able to establish the practical constituents for the practice of democracy by associating the unity with political pluralism, political and press freedoms and the freedom of expression. And it was also associated with passing laws regulating and guaranteeing the practical practice such as the press and publications and the freedom of opinion and expression law in 1990 and the law of 1991 pertaining political parties and organizations and general elections law in 1992.

During that period the people managed to finish three parliamentary elections, two presidential elections and two local elections, all enhancing the democratic practice and developing the masses democratic awareness. This stage is about to complete its features and traits in the remaining two months of this year.

As for the third stage, which the president is to launch in the coming days, it will be characterized by traits of implementation. It is an advanced stage of the democratic building and it is distinguished by the stage of the dynamism of the relationship between democracy and the utmost degree of economic development. Each one influences the other in the field of development and growth and its foundation is the human and placing the proper person in the proper place.

We have felt the early part of the third stage already. The president realized with his visions and deep look for the future the impossibility of separation between development and democracy. So he focused during that stage on development and modernization of infrastructure and services. There have been works on roads, communications, electricity, water, health and education all as an essential condition for he economic development and attracting foreign investments in addition to encouraging the local capitals. The president continues thinking of consolidating this development by introducing railroad service for the first time beside the development and expansion of general and commercial ports.

The president envisages that democracy and economic development will develop and grow in healthy climates. Therefore he adopted two laws on financial security and tenders. They are necessary for purging the arena from corruption, creating a sustainable state of social programs and investment in stability by developing and modernizing means and requirements of economic development.

Generally the present third stage of democratic construction is the one of the actual application of constituencies of democracy and its virtues on economic development and the latter's reflections on democracy for providing constituencies of the economic development and growth for the state of law and order and modern Yemen.

Prof. Abdulaziz Al-Tarb is an economist and a professor in Political Science. He is the head of the Arab Group for Investment and Development.