SILVER LININGBarren political parties & change drive [Archives:2007/1030/Opinion]

March 5 2007

Mohammed Al-Qadhi
It is really good that our political parties hold regular conferences every three or four years to name leaders for them. But, unfortunately most of these conferences produce no concrete results or hope of change for the people. The forth conference of the Islamist Islah party is a crystal example of the fruitlessness of our political drive.

The political parties which repeatedly call upon the regime of President Ali Abdullah Saleh to respect democracy and peaceful transfer of power, including Islah, have violated their own rules of democracy. Islah has undermined the hope of many people that new blood will start running in the party and a new leadership will emerge. The party abused its regulations when it decided with a consensus to renew the term of office for Sheikh Abdullah Bin Hussein al-Ahmer, naming him as a head of the party for a fourth consecutive term. It is not only this man who remains in his position, the the rest of the party stagnenates as other old faces stay in the same place but are given different titles.

The old guards in these political parties are, just like heads of states, afraid of any change that might sweep them away and put them on the shelf. They keep criticizing regimes of prolonging their stay in power by hook or crook, but they forget about themselves and that what they do is similarly anti-democratic.

Since the first conference of Islah in 1994, the world has seen upheavals and drastic changes; we have seen many prime ministers and heads of states coming and going but the leadership of Islah remains the same. This is not the case of the Islah party alone but also of most of the political parties in Yemen, except the Unionist Nasserite Party which last year brought in a completely new leadership. In its last conference in Aden, PGC members were hopeful of change but the President forced them into electing Abdulqader Bajamal who was the candidate of the President rather than the conferees. The rules of democracy were not respected again.

All in all, our emerging democracy will not prosper unless it is exercised well at the grass roots level. Change will become potential and likely when we see the old guards and the fossilized leaders of these parties leave their position democratically. The leaders of these parties should not ask for a change of president in the ruling party, if they are not able to practice it in their own parties. Don't you think so guys?!

Mohammed Al-Qadhi ([email protected]) is a Yemeni journalist and columnist.