July 24 2000

The importance of relations between Yemen and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia does not emerge from the common over which dispute has seen various cases of tide and ebb for around sixty years. It is rather stemming from what could the two countries’ cooperation contribute to preserving balance in both the region and the world. The strategic importance of Yemen and Saudi Arabia is associated with the huge oil reserves and their strategic location.
The recently concluded Jeddah Border Treaty is a strategic step hat would realize enormous gains compatible with ideas of the new world order, constituting an unprecedented qualitative transfer in the relationship of the two countries.
Now, what are the priorities of the Yemeni political system by which I mean both the authority and the opposition. We have to trace the discrepancies in the component of the existing system. We have to find out suitable means to effect an integration in the performance of the system which, in turn, would enable it to perform its duties effectively. In other words, the system in itself lacks the component of effective dealing with the requirements of the stage. This is because Yemen’s role will change. A partnership is needed to help realize Yemen’s future role in coordination and harmony with what would achieve Yemen’s goals and interests. Thus, this stage dictates upon us to search for agreed upon priorities to enable us to develop our country at all levels. It would be useful here to give a glimpse the reality we are living.
The Economic Situation:
The Yemeni economy is suffering from strangling crisis and deterioration too difficult for the state to cure by its present means. The state’s current means are characterized by corruption, mal-administration, over staffed institutions and high percentage of disguised unemployment. The Yemeni economy suffers also from improperly exploited poor resources, weakness of productive base, increase in general consumption, low purchasing power of local currency. Senior officials have an upper hand in defining the value of local currency and are involved in large-scale smuggling operations that overtired the national economy. In an attempt to overcome the deteriorated economic situation the government responded to recommendations of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) by issuing some economic resolutions, important of which were, rising prices of certain commodities and services and lifting State subsidy on basic goods. In fact, to come out of an economic crisis is not confined to issuance of ‘partial’ resolutions. The issue needs a comprehensive vision with both mass and political support.
The Political Situation:-
No doubt, the main reason behind the backwardness our country is suffering from is the absence of democracy, suppression of freedoms and the wide gap between the State and the society as well as the adoption of law of force, not force of the law in reinforcing the system’s power which was able to impose its domination and expand its influence by controlling the army, security, tribes, sects and such like, including the modern institutions represented in political parties and unions and civil society institutions. Thus the existing components of the ruling system have become the arch block in the face of reform and change. Thus people’s participation in decision-making has receded and the citizen, mainly concerned in change, has been rendered an absentee and excluded from the decision-making process. The ruling system insistence on effecting changes instead of the citizen is attributed either to fear from him or deeming his as still incompetent in this field. This very citizen is the one who bears the onus of wrong policies in which he has no say. It is he who bears the negative consequences in the real meaning.
The solution of these political problems lies in the sovereignty of the democratic system in all its forms and also effective application of democracy as a system of life for the society in an amicable way. What is important is not that we have constitution, parliamentary life, political parties and elections. We need a clear -cut look in the jurisdictions, well specified and respected within the State authorities and its institutions. The most outstanding aspect of the political problem facing democracy in our country is clearly seen in the regime’s failure to accomplish its tasks through the existing political institutions. These are mostly paralyzed because the regime does not believe in the state of institutions. The regimes sees in democracy a challenge to its authority. Thus democratic question and problems in our country are defined in the confrontation between those who want to practice it and those who want to suspend it. Thus, from out point of view, the priorities of the Yemeni political system are:-
Comprehensive Political Reform
The overall political reform we aim at is the realization of a Yemeni effective political system. Its action goes in harmony with the steps ought to be taken to achieve an additional value in favor of the country. The authority portion of the political system should not have been established on the present basis and neither on the basis existent when the unified Yemeni state was announced, on the basis of sharing.
The opposition section of the political system has to be effective. It should be in compatible with all the necessities governing the ruling system. The ruling system should not attempt to diminish the span of opposition. They must not interfere in the space of action and function assigned to both of them. This leads us to define the means of realizing comprehensive political reform.
Building A Coherent Ruling-System Based on Democracy:
It goes without saying that every democratic rule system depends on a system of elections based on facts of the reality where democracy is intended to exist. This represents one of the means consistency of that system. Copying any other law of elections should not be approved. Therefore we see that we must:
-introduce an election system on relative list basis because this ensures no loss of any vote. This is in harmony with our tribal society.
– revise and correct the present voters’ lists,
– re-shape the present Higher Commission for Elections in order to ensure that it is not influenced by any political party.
– subject all elections measures to the independent judicial power.
Local Government With Wider Authorities:-
Makers of the national draft of the local authority law fully comprehend its importance as a mechanism of comprehensive political reform and achieving large-scale popular participation.
Independent Judiciary With Valid Rulings:
We all know the famous dictum :”Justice is the foundation of rule.” No stability could be found in any country where judicial power is not just, not independent and without enforcement of its rulings. In Yemen it is not difficult to establish justice should the ruling system possess the necessary components for its consistency and balance.
Security, Stability & Development:-
It is the normal resultant of a balanced ruling system according to the concept explained above. There should be balance, consistency, local rule with wide-range authorities and independent and just judiciary.
Comprehensive National Reconciliation to Tackle Old Disputes
National reconciliation means that not yielding power merits. It is meant to a society whose members are reconciled and have joined forces and that it diversity has created an integration instead of the existing discord. Reconciliation should in consequence lead to ensure non-repetition of former conflicts that disintegrated the homeland and deepened the wounds.
Structural Changes in State-building System
Structural changes mean modernization of state structure which should be harmonious and integrated for fulfilling the role entrusted with Yemen, both regionally and internationally.
It goes without saying that the structural changes shall be followed and so it should be, by re-organizing mechanism of the function of the State. It should fulfill the Yemeni new role in the regional politics and be in harmony with the state machinery units. It should lead to achieve transparency and reinforcement of human rights. All should proceed from and based on effective political pluralism.
These are the priorities which should be taken into consideration for the entire Yemeni political system and which should be realized if we understand and agree to live a new phase. We are living in the age of information. It is an age no longer governed by class conflicts but based racing to acquire knowledge and confirm everybody’s right to knowledge. History is a true witness that our country was a pioneer in civilization dialogues and marriage of cultures. Our old migration waves helped change features of many large and rich communities history.
Ahmed Abdulla Ben Sheikh Abu Bakr
Member of the Politburo of RAY Party