Parliamentary committee calls for dissmissing Ibb governor [Archives:2007/1037/Front Page]

March 29 2007

By: Saddam Al-Ashmori
SANA'A, March 26 ) A parliamentary fact-finding committee on Sunday called for investigating officials in Ibb governorate who connived with Sheikh Mohammed Ahmed Mansour, accused of evicting and intimidating more than 400 families in Al-Ja'ashen district.

In its report, the committee recommended firing Ibb Governor Ali Al-Qaisi for not fulfilling his duty to stop Sheikh Al-Mansour's violations against the residents, as well as for hampering the fact-finding committee's activities in the area.

The parliamentary committee was formed Feb. 12 following reports that approximately 70 families from Ra'ash and Al-Soufa villages in Al-Ja'ashen district were displaced by their local Sheikh Mansour, who controls the entire area.

Earlier this month, the villagers returned home with the committee, but the latter was prevented from entering the area. The residents said they were insulted and harassed by Sheikh Mansour's soldiers upon their return.

Committee members reported that Governor Al-Qaisi advised them not to visit Ra'ash and Al-Soufa lest they be subjected to risks by Sheikh Mansour's escorts.

Thus, the committee prepared its report, including accounts by some villagers, and submitted it March 19 for inclusion on Parliament's discussion agenda. However, several parties and influential individuals attempted to prevent its distribution to members of Parliament. MP Sakhr Al-Wajeeh, the committee's reporter, confirmed that Parliament agreed to include the report on its agenda for later discussion.

In the report, the committee demanded investigating chief of Thi Sufal district and replacing him with someone else not conniving with Sheikh Mansour.

The report pointed out that the Yemeni government should enforce the state's authority in Al-Ja'ashen district, since it is part of Yemeni lands, noting that no individual – no matter who he is – may conduct himself outside of the Yemeni Constitution and effective laws.

The committee further called for destroying all of Sheikh Mansour's prisons in the area and criminalizing such behavior, along with punishing any individual detaining citizens outside of effective Yemeni laws.

Moreover, the report stressed the importance of quickly investigating the issues of Al-Soufa and Ra'ash villagers and judging them according to law and further requested the Yemeni government provide the area with basic services.

The committee also slammed local authorities for their leniency with Sheikh Mansour and trying to protect his dignity under the pretext of deferring to him in order for the area not to fall out from under his sway.

According to the report, the villagers' demands were just and fair, as they simply had requested their basic rights and demanded correcting the wrongs imposed upon them. The committee reported that various checkpoints affiliated with Sheikh Mansour were established along the main road leading to Ra'ash and Al-Soufa, further noting that most villagers were abused and checked upon their return to their homes.

It spoke at length about the villagers' suffering and barriers hindering the committee from doing its job, including misbehavior of local and official authorities in the governorate who insisted on backing Sheikh Mansour against the villagers.

In related news, Parliament halted its session Tuesday after a majority of MPs withdrew in protest of hiding the committee's report and preventing its distribution among MPs.

The deputy speaker of Parliament justified the move, saying MPs want to discuss the committee report with the heads of political blocs (a move considered to violate parliamentary bylaws), particularly after it was approved by a majority for discussion.

In its Wednesday's session, Parliament demanded Ministry of Interior to shut up unofficial prisons and punishing all those people responsible for setting up private prisons and criminalizing such acts.