Silver LiningPlease let it be fair play [Archives:2006/982/Opinion]

September 18 2006

Mohammed Al-Qadhi
The two suicide attacks against the oil refinery last Friday are surely going to affect the fever of Wednesday's elections. The link made by the ruling party between the two attacks and the rhetoric of the opposition on oil issues is really dangerous. It is okay to exchange accusations except the topic of terrorism.

The ruling party held the opposition alliance accountable for the acts and said the people behind them are members of the opposition. On its part, the opposition tends to believe the ruling party is trying to “poison the elections atmosphere.” In other words, it wants to say the ruling party is creating incidents to horrify the people.

This is really bad. I have written several articles, voicing concerns over the growing momentum of tensions and the consequent hostility between the two sides which might drive us into violence.

The two sides have been performing well and have demonstrated tremendous debates that have impressed everybody. The overall performance during the elections rallies is splendid. There have been a lot of interesting arguments around major issues and the people have a real choice on Wednesday.

I do not think anyone needs to spoil this important moment in Yemen's history after both sides have done so well to reach it.

Now, your main challenge is how to persevere and push it forward. The ruling party does not need to fabricate such stories to attack the opposition by linking them with terrorist acts. Similarly, the opposition coalition does not need to use violence to push the authorities toward foolish acts to suspend and stall the democratic experience in order to avoid defeat. Both agreed to the rules of a fair play which means there are winners and losers. They should try to keep their words to the people to have violence-free elections.

If the people vote for Saleh, he will be the first Arab leader to be elected through contested elections and the opposition would have played a pivotal role in this initiative. If he loses, which is not likely in my opinion, he said he would transfer power smoothly to his challenger Faisal Bin Shamlan, which again means he will be the first Arab leader to accept the choice of the people. In both cases, he will be the winner. And it is actually the people who are the real winners as they would have voted freely. So, please do not let stupid acts impede fair elections – let it be a fair play!

Mohammed Al-Qadhi is a Yemeni journalist and columnist.

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