Political training and presidency [Archives:2005/862/Opinion]

July 25 2005

By Prof. Dr. Abdulaziz al-Tarb
The fuss in the Yemeni society, and in western countries, regarding the next year's presidential elections shows clearly a partisan and political vacuum. We are in a bad need for politically trained and intellectually qualified leaders who can partake in the coming presidential, local and parliamentary elections. Therefore, it is necessary to discuss this issue with full candidacy for the public life over the recent decades have not given birth to leaders who conform to the spirit of the age and the nature of developments thereof.

The Constitution or Parties and Elections Laws can be of no use of we do not take into account regional developments and Iranian elections' results, and believe in dialogue until we get convinced that any party may run for presidency. Indeed, this is a culture and continuous training and education. This may salvage us and make us pinpoint our weak points and discover the deficiency resulting from the inadequate political education and absence of the required training for partisan and non-partisan elements.

I say that a political man expresses an instinctive nature and innate aptitude no matter of his academic qualification, his scientific specialty or his being civilian or military. What is important ultimately is his ability to manage things, study aims and achieve goals. We perceived during the last weeks how people looked around themselves to realize that the stillness was the outcome of nothing but the negligence of political training. It is an issue of which democratic nations and developed communities take care. No one should think that political training is something unessential and peoples do not need it. I also do not mean that political training is oration or the ability to talk and chant slogan or being fanatic about one's attitude. What I mean can be inferred from the following remarks:

First: The tactics of political suppression and the successive control of the region by foreign rulers have made the citizen unwilling to participate, turning him into some sort of spectator. This finally has made the citizens remain in their cocoons, or go out to chant or justify.

Second: The logic of revolutionary legitimacy which the region's countries adopted reflected itself on the political life and displaced intellectuals and qualified people in different fields. Here, I charge nobody. However, I really believe that the absence of political training is behind the hazy view and incomprehensive outlook. Late Prof. Dr. Abdulaziz al-Saqqaf, founder of the Yemen Times, had underscored this point right form the start of issuing his paper. On the other hand, we should head for fair elections and activate NGOs' role in the politics.

Third: We have to courageously admit to the weakness of our political parties for a host of reasons which we will not tackle. Most of the causes fall beyond the power of these parties and are related to the prevalent political atmosphere and existing local conditions. A political party ideally comprises a group of individuals bound by the same defined goals. They should be looking forward to rising to power in order to achieve the agreed goals. A party has to believe in the philosophy of the transfer of power and rotation of the leaders. Parties are basically schools for educating personnel and producing qualified politicians.

Fourth: Advocating the “power seeker should not be enabled” slogan went against the enthusiasm for political education and preparation for public service especially with the fact that key post nominations largely excluded political personalities and qualified individuals due to certain temporary considerations.

Fifth: Yemen used to be a country famous for producing many intellectuals, thinkers and politicians with valuable political visions. After years of lack of real practice, Yemen is facing the crisis helplessly, being unable to inject new blood and push forward new bright leaders.

Sixth: The relation between culture and politics shouldn't be disparaged or underestimated. A mature community is the one that bridges the gap between the thinker and the ruler and establish a balanced relation between the intellectual elite and the powerful elite. Yoking the mature intellect with power is the decision that best expresses the legitimacy of regimes, their efficiency and their clear vision.

Seventh: Without constitutional and political reform, being impetuous about economic reform is against the norms and the logicality of evolution. This may confiscate liberties, lead to little political participation and lack of desire to join public service.

Eighth: Pre-revolution regimes were familiar with the political minister and partisan official. A Cabinet's member was politically in charge of the outlines of the sector assigned to him. Technical experts were available to help him, ready to implement the policy. A health minister was a legalist and a minister of defense was a civilian, modeling the democratic system in parliamentary countries. I still remember that Andrina Ghandi kept the defense portfolio for her. The French minister of defense is an esteemed lady. The civilized world approves mingling of specialties. Malnamar, former US Defense Minister, was later appointed president of the World Bank. A deputy defense minister in the same country was appointed in the same position. Countries are galore that mix political, academic and press qualifications. However, in our country, a minister intervenes even in an officer's leave, endorse checks and move officers around the ministry's offices. Will we learn? When?

Ninth: It is time to seriously think of a real political education for the youth, not to make them politicians and leaders but at least participants in the public life concerned with political developments. A physician with a comprehensive view, an engineer with an integrated vision, and a scientist who knows what is going around him are better than specialized people detached from the events around them.

Tenth: Reluctance to get involved in politics and public life are two phenomena worth study. I sincerely believe that what breeds them is the lack in seriousness and confidence between the two concerned sides in our contemporary political life.

These are remarks meant to uncover the truth, clear the vision and predict the future. I know well that the president's post is a unique position that needs a special preparation, political training, and talent. Going towards construction and reform, Yemen should first pay attention to vitalizing the political life, represent different forces and contain the currents in our country. We have the model of the current president who led the country and achieved the Reunification along with a number of his comrades. Yet, such a crisis should not be repeated in the future. We have to have qualified experts in politics and governance, people who can yemenize transfer of power under the authority of law and public liberties.

We should ponder on the Iranian experience and how a former president who ruled the country lost to an inexperienced young man. It is truly a democratic practice worth the efforts of Arab research centers, academies, symposia and studies in order to evaluate and get benefit as we are approaching forthcoming presidential, local and parliamentary elections.