SILVER LININGNo showdown please [Archives:2006/990/Opinion]

October 16 2006

Last week was really controversial. It saw the arrest of our colleague Abed al-Mahthari, the arrest of the opposition politician Ali al-Dailami and the threat of Ali al-Shater, editor of the 26 September military weekly by the parliamentarian and opposition leader Hamid al-Ahmer which he denied. I have also heard about similar harassments for opposition activities and local elections candidates.

These incidents are a consequence of the heated and contested elections which saw a lot of unprecedented debates and arguments in the history of Yemen's politics. The competition was really excellent and impressed everybody.

Therefore, we do not to spoil this achievement we Yemenis have made, despite so many irregularities and shortcomings, by foolish acts of showdown and settling of accounts. To me, these incidents are a result of this mentality that thinks that it is time for showdown as it does not believe in democracy. Some people at the ruling party still consider the opposition has done a felony in competing and challenging president Saleh, presenting clear statement towards different issues and being harsh in criticizing the government's policies. This is why they think it is time to give hard times to leading opposition figures and critical journalists.

In my opinion, the ruling party and president Saleh should be grateful to Bin Shamlan and the opposition for challenging them and setting a model for genuine and open contested elections in the region. Without such a serious candidate and real competition, there would not have been any meaning for elections and the victory of Saleh. Despite all irregularities, Saleh can be said is now the first Arab leader who came to power through genuine elections. The president should be proud that he is the first Arab leader to accept such a serious competition which is a fundamental constitutional right for the opposition to do.

Saleh already called for a new relationship with the opposition and even people who called for “public uprising”, meaning Hamid Al-Ahmer. The man who has been in power for over 28 years realizes the hazards of settling accounts. Therefore, it is his responsibility to put off the fire of hostile sentiments of the pre-and- post elections. I understand there will be many more problems of this type in several areas, particularly the countryside. This is why it is important to put an end to them. The opposition figures have voiced concerns over using the terrorism and security card to settle scores with them.

In Short, Saleh has to restore those worried people confidence in democracy and that it is not hostility or enmity but a sort of honest and fair play which entail win and loss. The losers should not be intimated and are pushed to feel that they have done a crime. This is the essence of the game that all sides should understand.

I guess we should not waste time in such intrigues and look ahead to what the future has for us. This is much better for the country and its people!

Mohammed Al-Qadhi is a Yemeni journalist and columnist.

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