Presidential privileges [Archives:2006/912/Viewpoint]

January 16 2006

President of the Republic of Yemen Ali Abdullah Saleh, had once stated: “Some people in the world own but don't rule, some rule but don't own and we in Yemen don't rule nor own, we just manage”. Considering the facts of today, this statement sounds a little ambiguous, especially to have been said by the president of the country who had been ruling over 27 years and perhaps seven more to come. In a famous TV interview end of last year, the president explained his status again when he said: “Some say that I don't want to let go of the power, but this is not true. I have no interest in the presidency as there are no privileges in ruling Yemen. Where would privileges come from? We are just a poor country burdened with problems. Whoever wants to rule, let him come. I won't lose anything.”

As a Yemeni citizen I was both hurt and surprised to hear these words. How have the Arabian Felix or the Happy Yemen turned into a poor country burdened with problems? I also feel insulted that my president doesn't feel privileged to rule my country. And if it is true that there is nothing to lose, then how come our president has backed off from his words and is running for presidency in the next elections?

Many well informed people in and outside Yemen know that this is a country with rich resource and full of potential. The strategic location of Yemen alone if utilized could help this so called poor country get out of its inevitable doom. Yes it is true that there had been some achievements, but never were they enough and ever had they been accompanied by some loss in other directions.

I believe that it is a privilege to rule Yemen. And I most certainly know that there have been challenges yet there are advantages whether power, fame or money in being president. Saleh's twenty seven years of power had always been challenged with instability, tribal resistance and corruption. I admire this man for being able to stabilize the political situation to an extent, and I know it takes someone with courage and wisdom to be able to handle this country. However, there is a time for everything, and if the burden is getting heavier maybe it is time to pass it on to some other shoulders.