Press Review [Archives:2001/31/Press Review]

July 30 2001

The government’s proposal of a draft law on elections, its call for a plenary dialogue with the political parties and organizations and powers of local councils have been the most controversial themes most of the local newspapers have discussed this week in the form of editorials and leading article.
Here are excerpts from articles published in some of Yemeni local newspapers this week.
Saut Al-Shoura weekly 22 July 22 2001
Mr Mohammed Saleh Al-Hadhiri has written an article on the electoral regime that should be applied in Yemen, pinpointing a number of national principles to be taken into consideration.
The author has offered three major such principles.
— There must be an electoral system established at a level of completely open constituencies. He proposes that the cities and or the governorates or the homeland as a whole one electoral constituency in a manner preventing to be controlled by centers of influence.
— He calls for inauguration of debate within the political movement in its both ruling and opposition components. This debate should be founded on national rights rather than partisan rights. That means putting emphasis on issues of e society instead of coordination or dialogue with the ruling party given that the degree of national development would not open an opportunity for betting on elections as a means for decisiveness and developing continued pressures with more than media pressures.
— The third point or principle put forward by the author is the building of a new basis of confidence between the political movement and the intelligentsia. The basis is to give the intelligentsia a kind of presence beyond of what has been defined for them in the political situation as a precept of individuals effect. Out of this comes the change in the opposition identity, from opposition parties coordination council into a coordination council for opposition in order to include all non-partisan and influential individuals. These latter elements are the victims of the political situation.
Annas weekly, 23 July 2001.
Yahya Ali Alaw has written an article discussing the local councils experiment in Yemen and complications and shortcomings accompanying it. He says as the local councils structure has been completed and now it is time to think of its specialties and authorities and tasks according to the law of the local councils.
Against this the central authority is still hostage of fear and hesitation towards the probable negative reflections of the process of transferring to the system of local councils. The central authority seems to be under influence of a number of considerations such as:
– non-availability of essential structural and skill-related body, necessary for perfect practice of local authority at the country’s administrative units,
-fear from effects of political disputes on the practice because of seriousness of the experiment,
-a feeling of unbearability of relinquishing a spacious area of authorities and specialties.
The writer calls on all; masses, political forces, central authority and local authority for interacting objectively and rationally with this experiment. They should be keen providing elements of its success. Objective appraisal of this experiment clarifies that if it has been well-administered it will represent a popular ” revolution”, civilized and comprehensive.
Al-Wahdawi weekly, organ of the Nasserite People’s Unionist Organization, 24 July 2001.
The newspaper’s editorial of this week has been devoted to the 49th anniversary of 23 July revolution in Egypt. The Arab people of Egypt and with them the entire Arab nation have on July 23 celebrated the 49th anniversary of the revolution that came to uproot the then corrupt monarchic regime and the colonialist presence in Egypt and then in the rest of Arab countries. It was an example even for the developing world countries.
The July 23 revolution came heralding slogans of freedom, dignity and independence. The revolution came to achieve gigantic accomplishments such as building the army, the High Dam, developing the desert, nationalization of Suez Canal and to make the immortal heroic feats in Port Said, Sinai and Lebanon. The July 23 revolution came to unify the Arabs from the Gulf to the Ocean. Even after thirty years since the departure of the revolution’s leader Jamal Abdul Nasser the Arab nation is still chanting the glories of the revolution. The other rulers of the Arab nation have not been able to occupy his position. It is not surprising to assume that because the one fit to Nasser’s position should have the same characteristics entertained by Nasser, i,e, to be sincerely expressing the interests of his nation and verily able to embody her conscience.
Al-Ihya’a Al-Arabi weekly, organ of the Arab Baath Socialist Party, Iraqi organization, 24 July 2001.
The newspaper’s editorial is devoted to the theme of the government’s call for holding dialogue with opposition parties with regard to its draft proposal on amending the elections law and referendum. The call is an evidence of the government’s acknowledgment that there is a real failure in the previous experiment of electoral action. The call for dialogue is considered one of the bases of pluralism system and dialogue is a matter that concern all the political forces that constitute the standing regime and its institutions. It goes without saying that the government would not have called for a dialogue with the opposition parties were the law intended to be amended was related to education or economic or social and professional affairs.
The editorial maintains that return to the texts of the constitution and keenness on just and proper security application of them could be a guarantor for all to reach an agreement and rectify whatever has accompanied the experiment, such as failures and mistakes. They should be put on table for discussion and tackling.
As-Sahwa weekly, 26 July 2001.
Columnist Zeid bin Ali Ash-Shami has this week published an article discussing the question of democracy describing the government’s projects in this respect as a move of dealing a death blow to ”remnants of democracy”. Mr Ash-Shami democracy has become the merchandise our country is boasting of before the world and some who exaggerate in praising it claim that the neighboring countries and other world countries envy Yemen of its democratic experiment.
Although practically the democratic practice confirms that the Yemeni experiment is still fledgling the people and political forces have accepted participating in elections processes despite everything in the hope that the experiment will be matured with the passage of time.
The writer says the ruling party is dominating over all political functions including political rights, civil and constitutional establishments, and mass media institutions. The writer maintains that the government is preparing a new law on elections to be discussed and it wants to cancel rights of the political forces to the partial monitoring on the electoral process. The ruling party government had in 1997 presented a draft law making the electoral higher committee and its affiliate committees merely a governmental institution affiliated to the executive power, and that proposal faced rejection and matters settled on the minimum acceptable extent. The writer has further said that the government and the ruling party interference in running the higher committee of elections and depriving it of its independence has created many problems the least of which is that many constituencies in the local elections did not announce their results and in others the results were postponed. It is unreasonable for the ruling party to call for participation in elections and does not allow anyone to succeed in them.
Ath-Thawra daily 28 July 2001.
The daily’s editorial for today has lashed out at the opposition parties that issued Thursday a statement denouncing and refusing the government’s latest decision of raising prices of diesel fuel. The editorial says that these parties are still clinging to economic visions and concepts far from the spirit of the age and its variables, and also sticking to totalitarian beliefs that are still dwelling inside them. It says that their attitude does not seem a strange one as long as their leadership are still in their positions for more than three successive decades.
Ath-Thawra editorial has further said that the language used in the statement is a rhetoric and propagatory one and has nothing to do with the logic of national interests and the orientations announced by the government in its endeavor to uproot corruption. It has also said that these political parties and organizations have expressed their inability to understand the sound economic and national stand through their uncommon declaration of freezing dialogue with the government which indicates that their dealing with prices changes is stemming from partisan considerations. It has further said that these parties stand gives an indication that they do not possess political, economic and social vision of the changes going on in the country. These parties pretend to have forgotten that the government itself has called for a meeting and a dialogue with opposition parties on the proposed project of elections law and that these very parties that issued the statement do not represent all political parties and organizations and civil society institutions.
Ath-Thawri weekly, organ of the YSP, 26 July 2001.
The editorial of the newspaper is this week written by Dr Saif Saiel Khalid, assistant secretary-general of the YSP.
The author says that the interconnection between unity and democracy formed the title of the new social contract formulated in May 1990. It had represented the beginning of the new qualitative turning in contemporary history of Yemen. It had been the inauguration of the first step in the long distance towards the comprehensive democratic Arab unity. Unfortunately the outcomes of the 1994 war constituted a strong blow to this peaceful, democratic and unionist course and burial of the social contract. The war has enhanced in the official political awareness the culture of violence and arrogance of force.
Today and within the framework of the present dialogue between the government and the political parties and organizations of civil society on reforming the electoral system and providing guarantees for free and honest elections there is a dire need of activating the national political thought and entertaining of sincerity and frankness towards the sense of national responsibility. It is no longer a secret that the fabric and bonds of the national unity are suffering from a continued state of exhaustion and corrosion as well as aggravation of the economic and social crisis.
Against this situation there must be a re-thinking and departing from the cocoon of intellectual stereotypes. There also should be an abolishing of violence culture and training on respecting others’ opinions and clinging to the rules of constructive dialogue .