President Saleh questions GPC’s ineptitude [Archives:2006/958/Opinion]

June 26 2006

By: Mohammed Al-Qadhi
President Ali Saleh has really said he was not joking when he had announced last July that he would not run in the presidential elections scheduled for this September. Many thought that the man was purely fooling the Yemeni people and the international community and that he would change his mind after his party, the General People's Congress (GPC), pushed the masses to take to the streets compelling him to run again. Members of the GPC did not take Saleh's pledge seriously, considering it as just a joke that they would play along with to the very end.

The man has been very blatant in his speech on the second day of the GPC's extraordinary meeting. There he clearly said that he would like to step down. He seemed frustrated with GPC members, especially the leaders. He said that he wanted to be neither a “taxi” for ruling party members to positions in government, nor an “umbrella for [their] corruption”.

Saleh even apologized for all the mistakes he has made during his term in office and asked for the Yemeni people's pardon. This is the message he wanted to deliver to his party and the cronies around him, including his relatives. He said he cannot continue to run the country with the same team of crooks: they constitute a heavy burden that Saleh cannot get rid of easily. However, the president has been very lenient with corrupt people who have evolved like parasites in stagnant water.

Those people who wept during GPC's emergency meeting last Wednesday did not weep in a pity for the loss of a man who has done much for the country; rather they wept for the potential loss of their interests and illegitimate wealth, which they accumulated during his time in power. These parasites gained power and influence not based on merit, but because of nepotism and cronyism.

Saleh feels that his name and power have been damaged by his cronies, relatives, and ruling party members. Their abuses have brought out the worst side of his reign: lawlessness and rampant corruption. He seemed to have settled accounts with these people who have proved themselves to be handicapped, laggard, and inept. Saleh cannot face domestic and international challenges when his party lacks all valued attributes of any political organization. The GPC has nothing to attract the Yemeni people except the interests and benefits they can handout through the misuse of power and the breakdown of law and order. The party has no clear political project for the future based on the smart way of planning now and even for the post-Saleh era. Saleh cannot, of course, run the country forever and the country should be prepared for this reality, which many fail to acknowledge.

So, the man wanted to test his political party and its ability to run the country even if he is gone. The man has dreams of being immortalized through his deeds and maybe through his party. Yet the people in his party have let him down by their poor governance and their corruption that has hit the country strongly. Saleh said that he cared about his legacy and it should not be tarnished by the corruption and lawlessness of such a group of hypocrites.

As a matter of fact, the result of the deficiency and incompetence of the ruling party and the cronies around the president has quickened the pace and extent of Yemen's deterioration. Who is to blame? Of course, the leader of the country is always held responsible for the wrongdoings of his people.

Whether he decides to stick to his promise or not, Saleh has given his party a very good lesson. He questioned his party's inefficiency and pervasive corruption, which are the major reasons behind his decision withdraw from the seat of power and the headaches that go along with it. Yemen will likely see a serious crisis if he sticks to his word.

Mohammed Al-Qadhi is a Yemeni journalist and columnist.

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