Saleh wants a full presidential system [Archives:2007/1089/Front Page]

September 27 2007

By:Mohammed Jabri
SANA'A, September 26 ) During a meeting with a number of political parties held on Monday, President Ali Abdullah Saleh announced an initiative related to constitutional amendments that aim to 'create a full presidential system'.

Saleh suggested that the presidential term be reduced from seven to five years, and the parliamentary term to four years from six.

According to the proposed amendments, which include ten points, local police force is to be established in each governorate, with a general central security apparatus representing them. The proposed amendments aim to change the term of the local authority to the local rule, while the head of the local rule is to be elected by the electorate in accordance with the law.

The local councils will be tasked with controlling taxes and revenues that will be allocated for implementing projects and running works within the local sphere and in accordance with the law. Saleh's plan also aims to allocate 15 percent of the parliament's 301 seats for women and that is to be stated by the law.

The supreme commission for elections will be formed pursuant to the Higher Judiciary Council's nomination of 14 judges, seven of whom to be selected by the president of the republic.

The reforms are yet to be approved by the parliament, the majority of whose represent the ruling party.

The announcement comes amid a series of protests organized by the opposition nationwide to protest the country's poor conditions, the government's failure to curb price hikes.

The Joint Meeting Parties, a coalition of opposition parties, didn't attend the meeting, for which Saleh called on Saturday. The meeting was changed from a friendly one on the occasion of Ramadan to an open dialogue about an open agenda, without the JMP knowing about it, said the JMP Supreme Council on Sunday.

The way the meeting is handled reflects the lack of seriousness to discuss current national issues, the Council added.

The JMP meeting also warned the government of the continuation of economic deterioration and price hikes during Ramadan, calling it to take extensive and decisive procedures against corruption and the corrupt.

Saleh, however, said the door is still open for the dialogue with all the political powers. “Dialogue is the best way to get away from crises without resorting to other options as they lead to disasters,” he said.

“We called the political parties and powers for a meeting in order to exchange views on the initiative, and anyone who has comments on these amendments can raise them.

“We have been teaching you the democracy for 17 years, but you haven't learnt. If we were you, we would have won the street,” Saleh addressed the JMP.

Insignificant amendments

While some political leaders welcomed president Saleh's initiative, experts said Saleh's amendments don't break new ground and described them as “a new comedy.” quoted lawyer Yassin Abdul-Razzaq as saying there is nothing new in the amendments, considering them a way to show there is a real political reform in the country.

“Whenever the president finds his term reaches an end, he calls for a constitutional amendment. He tries to find a chance to stay in power through these amendments,” Abdul-Razzaq said.

Head of the Legal Office at the Yemeni Socialist Party, Mohammed Al-Mikhlafi said the amendments will cause more disappointments for the possibility of a peaceful transfer of power. “No political party can carry out constitutional amendments without dialogue with other parties,” he said.

The JMP leaders haven't yet commented on the amendments. They are expected to announce their stance on Thursday.