Proposed price hikes still raising alarmsOpposition gearing up for protests [Archives:2004/706/Local News]

January 26 2004

Mohammed bin Sallam
SANA'A – Yemen's deputy prime minister and the minister of planning and international cooperation Ahmed Soufan promised that the government will lift subsidies on oil products.
In a meeting last week with donor parties, the minister said the government would continue implementing its program of financial and administrative reform, reviewing what the Yemeni economy had so far realized in this regard in the year 2003 and indicators of 2004.
The Yemeni government has approved in its budget for 2004 to lift YR 6 billion of its subsidy to oil products and that has been endorsed by the ruling party parliamentary majority while opposition and independent blocs at the parliament have rejected it, deeming it a new ruinous dose.
The opposition parties on the other hand are considering the form and way of response to confront the coming price hike.
Al-Sahwa weekly published opinions of some opposition leaders, quoting Abduladhim al- Omari, head of the executive bureau of the Islah Party in the capital secretariat, as mentioning that his party's stand was clear that “our parliamentary bloc voted against the impoverishment project,'' confirming the people are no longer able to sustain more high- priced living condition and that the citizen is living a miserable life.
He added that in principle the stand comes from the people, and he could not rule out the occurrence of some protest activities, but the question needed coordination and approval of parties of the JMP.
Head of the information and culture office at the Nasserite Unionist organisation Dr Abdulla al-Dahhan says he shares Dr al- Omari's opinion regarding stance of the opposition parties, noting the “opposition parties refuse future doses under a miserable social situation.”
He confirmed that the practical stand requests holding a meeting for the JMP and such an initiative must be very soon in order to take measures curbing the rounds of repeated government doses that do not take into consideration the people's conditions.
He called on the opposition parties to take suitable decisions to protect the people's interests and rights, provided that the decisions are studied in a way that would not express unilateral viewpoint.
The two leading politicians voiced fears from exploiting any demonstrations by the JMP for creating chaos especially under the complications needed for obtaining a license from the interior ministry.
JMP in Aden intends to stage protest demonstrations against the rise in prices and the many violations of human rights in Aden.
Secretary of the Yemen Socialist Party in Aden Ali Munasar stressed the parties intention in this regard, but added that the date was not fixed yet, saying “there are many things that needed to be protested against, in addition to the price rise, such as approving the law of civil service, pensioning many civil servants before due time for political reasons and privatization of state institutions for rendering them as booties in favour of influential individuals.”