President’s commitment is important [Archives:2003/634/Viewpoint]

May 5 2003

The violations in the parliamentary elections held on April 27 have been clearly mentioned in a number of reports, including the preliminary report of the NDI, which talked about “significant incidents of underage voting and other problems and irregularities”. So it is inappropriate for anyone to deny them. What one needs to do now is to hold those who committed those violations accountable.
The elections are now over. We succeeded in gaining the minimal satisfaction of the world community concerning the credibility of the elections. However, so as to make future elections -soonest to be the local council elections next year- as trouble-free as possible, and this cannot be achieved unless the president has the commitment to do so.
According to the NDI report, the ruling party General People's Congress (GPC) was behind most of those violations. This makes the leader of the party – the president- responsible for putting an end to this phenomenon and having all those who participated in fraud or called for underage voting brought to justice.
The idea behind this is that the president is the president of all of us. He should be treating all parties equally under law, and understand that his role is instrumental in making any democratic experience a success.
Just as President Saleh was wise enough to commit himself to democratizing Yemen, he must stand against those who want to ruin or sabotage the democratic experiencing by committing such humiliating actions such as having tens of 10-year-old students lined up to vote for the ruling party, or giving “magical” pens to voters so as the ink would be erased automatically once the vote is made.
It is over for elections, but it is not over for those individuals or groups that have done so much damage to our democratically- held elections. Those must be punished, and the news that they were punished must come in the different media organs and newspapers. President Saleh must show his people and the world that he is committed to fighting those who abuse democracy in favor of any party, whether ruling or opposition.
This is why we had the title “Would the president instruct the investigation of cases of underage voting?” and this is why we call upon him again through this column to do something and show that those people will not go unpunished. We must regain the confidence that was partially lost in the last elections and have faith that next elections will be much more transparent and well-managed.
We may not achieve 100% perfect elections. But we can at least try. At the end of the day however, this cannot happen unless there is commitment from our president.
Will he commit himself to achieving this?
I hope so.