Silver LiningChange lacks political will [Archives:2005/870/Opinion]

August 22 2005

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During the last months, we have been reading scary reports from different international agencies on the situation in Yemen. The World Bank has warned against the collapse of the reform package program; the European Commission also depicted unpromising picture of the situation.

Some US study centers categorized Yemen as one of the failed states that is likely to fall into the trap of Afghanistan. Again, the UNDP has been talking about a fragile and weak judiciary system and an administration that encourages and promotes corruption.

However, the political regime and the government of Yemen have never stopped cheating the public, presenting a rosy picture of the so-called “great achievements” they have done for the helpless people.

The situation is intolerable for the majority of the people who live below the poverty line and their living standards fall down dramatically. Even some of the good people at the cabinet have told me they are fed up and not satisfied with how things are running due to the interference of some people at the power center in their job.

Such international reports are scary enough to make even the dead wake up and do something to stop any potential collapse of system in the country.

However, our people in charge are heedless to such reports and even make fun of such reports, describing them as an attempt of conspiracy by some forces that do like Yemen to stir up the “stable” situation.

They even insult anybody who criticizes their policy, labling them as Sometimes, the big people go nuts to the extent of claiming that we are envied by others for the big democratic achievements we are making.

Hey, people, wake up, stop the collapse before it is too late, and do not any longer try to fool even the world by such allegations that have always proved incorrect.

Democracy does not end at elections which are most of the time full of mistakes and not fully fair. Democracy means accountability, respect of human rights, justice, transparency and above all the rule of law.

If such global values do not exist in any society, there is no meaning in claiming it is democratic.

I am sure that the diplomats who have been impressed by Yemen's emerging democratic experience have wakened up and realized the reality of the situation.

They no longer send reports to their countries, describing Yemen as”bacon of democracy”. There will not and should not be any longer reports of such kind. All indicators show that we are backsliding in everything-politically, economically, socially and even culturally as some of the precious heritage and historical places are prone to vanish.

I think one of our problems is that there is more control of authorities at the hand of very few people. Most of the big officials, including ministers, do not enjoy full power granted by law to run their own ministries. The presidential office people are even more powerful than ministers are.

Appointment in key positions is not done according to competence but nepotism, favoritism and most of the time, sectarian factors. The big people put their nose in everything even the formation of the football team that they believe should include players from different regions.

By and large, this is not, of course, the sole reason behind our problems but as I said earlier, lack of transparency, independent judiciary, decentralization, corruption, and rule of law all matter. To start fighting against such ailments is a difficult but not an impossible task. Reform and change need a political will and force which Yemen lacks at the moment.