Reforms, amendments and the government [Archives:2008/1174/Opinion]

July 21 2008

By: Mohammed Al-Maqaleh
While the Yemeni opposition leader was conducting consultative dialogues with President of the Republic on political detainees, proportional list in elections, electoral domiciles and election management, believed to be top priority issues, the latter (President Saleh) decided to present a proposal of important constitutional amendments to the Shoura Council. Saleh also distributed the proposal to the various private and party-affiliated newspapers without even considering the role of his partner in such amendments.

We got surprised when we heard the news of these amendments. In all circumstances, such an individually-taken method in discussing critical issues is one of the factors behind fragmentation, loss of confidence and damage of dialogue values.

This method made each party cast doubt on what the other party does even if the thing being done proceeds to its advantage and is in favor of the nation. The opposition is entitled to object to the amendments proposal. It has the right to consider the ruler's behavior as one-sided step that may not ensure neutrality in the discussion of critical issues.

A very important question being raised here is that, “What are the top priority issues listed by the opposition? Are they political reforms or upcoming parliamentary elections, or both?

I am not against the constitutional amendments in principle or in terms of the timing. However, I see that the current time period is the most convenient occasion for dialoguing on the suggested constitutional amendments and various viewpoints on this regard. We need not engage ourselves in futile deliberations on electoral domiciles and election management body, which if exclusively formed from the opposition without reforming both the political and electoral systems, it would never help address real problems on the ground.

If Joint Meeting Parties (JMP) give top priority to reforming the Yemeni state, not to reviewing the election management body, even if the latter is a small part of the former, the normal reference for this kind of political and national reforms will be the constitution and any required amendments, as well as any disagreements or agreements on these amendments.

The election law and any agreements or disagreements on amending this law have nothing to do with reforming the Yemeni state. In event a serious political will is available to reform both spheres (the Yemeni state and its election system) as part of the comprehensive national reform program, any expended efforts in this regard will make progress.

Today, there is no notable disagreement between the relevant parties over the fact that Yemen is experiencing a dangerous crisis that threatens national unity, security and stability. The various parties involved understand that the only way to help the nation get rid of its current crisis is conducting comprehensive political reforms concerned with the Yemeni state.

These reforms should change the nature of state's performance, convince it to accept national partnership and peaceful transfer of power, expand the base of popular participation, separate the three authorities from each other and compose a bicameral legislature of both chambers, one to represent population, and the other to be formed in light of geographical areas.

Both chambers of the bicameral legislature must constitute a unified body to discuss any pressing national issues and enhance local governance with broad powers in a way encouraging the establishment of a really effective local authority to exercise oversight over performance of the various executive offices in the government.

Source: Al-Thawri Weekly.