Peaceful transfer of power is impossible in Yemen [Archives:2007/1087/Opinion]

September 20 2007

By: Qadri Ahmad Haidar
The declaration of pluralism in any system is no longer considered the main criterion, as wider participation and lifting restrictions on participation have become the most important requirements of democracy. In many Arab countries, pluralism has transformed into merely a decoration for the sake of earning political support and financial assistance from donors. There is no meaning for pluralism and participation unless there is a peaceful transfer of power. In the democratic countries, be they free or developing ones, pluralism and democracy necessarily mean their being developed into a peaceful transfer of power.

Political participation is the cornerstone for other forms of participation while denying citizens their rights to be engaged in politics leads to depriving citizens of the social participation.

The crisis of political participation in Yemen originates from the political regime's fear of democracy and moving on the democratic path until the end because such means an end to the current regime in Yemen. So, the political regime in Yemen excessively use all the government's executive, security and military bodies, as well as other facilities to control the electoral process and the vote result like what happened in the most recent presidential elections in September 20, 2007. The official media and all the state's facilities were exploited in favor of the ruling party's candidate with little acknowledgment of formal competition.

The ordinary citizen feels that there is no feasibility of voting in an electoral process, the vote result of which is known in advance. In this context, the final report, released by the European Union Election Observation Mission, contained a great deal of remarks and comments on the most recent presidential and local council elections. The report recommended more transparency and neutrality in the election management and suggested fundamental amendments to the Election Law, which was drafted according to the regime's demands.

In addition, the EU Election Observation Mission's report stressed the necessity of taking a list of procedures that help promote democracy and participation in the coming electoral processes. The reality of confined pluralism in Yemen, as well as in other Arab states experiencing a similar situation, led to preventing citizens from participating in politics, including the educated people, politicians and social activists.

The crises of pluralism, democracy, participation and peaceful transfer of power are all stemming from the traditional social environment, as well as a regime with tribal color. Since November 1967, such a regime has been working on reproducing the traditional social climate by monopolizing politics with the aim of reserving power and dominating the nation. This fact remains dominating the general values of the society.

The traditional tribal and military forces are not part of the structure of the Yemeni state. Instead, they constitute the most effective and pivotal component in the formation of cabinet and power, and the state is one of the derivatives of the tribal and military structure. This is the main reason behind the impossibility of building the state of institutions, law and order, and the poor participation in politics.

The tribal military regime is an antonym of the state of institutions. At this point, it has been made clear that the modern state doesn't exist in contemporary Yemen as there is no separation between the ruler and the institution. However, the ruler or the president in the contractual democratic system, based on pluralism, is a citizen elected by people to represent them for a constitutionally specified term. This ruler or president shall take the job at a monthly salary specified by the Public Job Law until the expiry of his assignment, and after which time, he shall leave the job for someone else other than him in conformity with the Yemeni Constitution.

Source: Al-Wasat Weekly